Make Ahead

Meyer Lemon-Olive Shortbread

February  6, 2011
3 Ratings
Author Notes

My husband and I are going to Portugal in May, so, for inspiration, I got David Leite’s wonderful new book: The New Portuguese Table. In it he has a recipe for sweet lemon and black olive wafers –cookies—that contain both lemon and olive. His are… well, let’s say they’re rustic looking. I love the idea of a cookie that has both lemon and olives in it, and wanted to see if I could make them… well, let’s say more like cookies. So I decided to make shortbread instead of wafers. I adapted Alice Medrich’s recipe for twice baked shortbread. She says that the secrets to tender, buttery, crunchy shortbread are letting the dough rest in the pan for at least two hours (or overnight) before baking and adding a second baking-- to toast the cookies slightly for extra flavor and crunch. What I like about her technique is that the dough comes together with very little mixing, and is very easy to spread in the baking pan. When the dough rests at room temperature, the melted butter firms up and the flavors all meld together. - drbabs —drbabs

Test Kitchen Notes

Drbabs's recipe fuses a great technique and a wonderful flavor combination. The shortbread is crumbly and toasty. The flavors are balanced, highlighting why the combination of olive and citrus works. The salty bites of mild olives work are a smart addition to the sweet shortbread. —Stephanie Bourgeois

  • Makes 1 8x8 pan, cut into as many pieces as you like
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar?
  • ?1/4 teaspoon kosher or flaky sea salt
  • 1/4 cup mild oil-cured black olives (about 10 medium sized), pitted, rinsed, drained, finely chopped, and dried in a tea towel
  • 2 tablespoons meyer lemon zest (from about 4 medium-sized lemons) or 1 tablespoon regular lemon and 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) all-purpose flour?
  • ~1 tablespoon Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top of the cookies
In This Recipe
  1. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil then butter the insides.
  2. In a large (not nonstick) saucepan, melt the butter and let it cook until it is just starting to brown and become fragrant. Keep warm.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter with the sugar, lemon zest, olives and salt. Add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Pat and spread the dough evenly in the pan. Let rest at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  4. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Bake the shortbread for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven and increase oven temperature to 325. Lightly sprinkle the surface of the shortbread with Turbinado sugar. Let the shortbread cool for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the shortbread from the pan, being careful not to break it. (It will be very soft and fragile.) Use a thin sharp knife to cut it into oblong fingers, wedges, or squares. Place the pieces slightly apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put them back into the oven for 15-20 minutes. They will still be soft and crumbly, but will be golden brown on the edges. Cool thoroughly on a rack.

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