Lemon Ginger Shortbread

These lemon ginger shortbreads are rife with ground ginger and fresh lemon zest. They’re perfect just like that or you can accentuate the tart citrus component by making an easy lemon glaze.

Two stacks of wedges of glazed lemon ginger shortbread.

Shortbread itself is a perfect neutral base for incorporating powerful flavors, particularly ginger. Leite’s Culinaria readers will need something pungent if they’re going to go for it, which is why I use ginger powder and bits of crystallized ginger. It’s sharp, so you get little bursts of flavor on the tongue, while the lemon rounds out the taste and gives a smooth finish.–Tish Boyle

DOES SHORTBREAD NEED CORNSTARCH?

It does! However, this recipe uses cake flour, which has a secret ingredient—and it’s cornstarch. It makes the dough softer and, therefore, the finished cookie. And, in a related question, yes, you can absolutely make your own cake flour. For this recipe, here’s the math. (Because we’re awesome.) Take 1 tbsp of cornstarch and dump it into a 1/2-cup measuring cup. Fill with all-purpose flour and level it. You’re done.

Lemon Ginger Shortbread

Two stacks of wedges of glazed lemon ginger shortbread.
Lemon and ginger are a personal favorite flavor combination of mine. The optional lemon glaze with bits of lemon zest makes for a more emphatic citrus taste.
Tish Boyle

Prep 30 mins
Cook 40 mins
Total 1 hr 20 mins
Dessert
American
12 cookies
230 kcal
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Ingredients 

For the lemon glaze (optional)

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar sifted
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 oz) unsalted butter softened
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Pinch salt

For the shortbread

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 9 tablespoons (4 1/2 oz) unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (about 1 1/2 ounces)

Directions
 

Make the glaze (optional)

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the confectioners' sugar, butter, heavy cream, lemon zest, and salt at medium speed just until combined, about 30 seconds. Cover the surface of the glaze with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

Make the shortbread

  • Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Have a 9-inch round cake pan at hand.
  • Sift the flours together into a medium bowl. Gently whisk to combine; and set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, ground ginger, salt, and lemon zest at medium-low speed until well blended (don't overheat; you don't want to incorporate a lot of air). Add the crystallized ginger and mix until blended. At low speed, add the flour in three additions, mixing just until the dough starts to come together and is no longer crumbly.
  • Press the dough evenly and firmly into the cake pan. Press the back of the tines of a fork all around the edges. Bake the shortbread for 35 to 40 minutes, until it is just barely colored a creamy beige; don't let it brown. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the shortbread round from the pan and, using a sharp knife, cut it into 12 wedges. If using the glaze, spread a generous amount onto each wedge, letting it drip over the sides. Transfer the triangles to the wire rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1wedge/cookieCalories: 230kcal (12%)Carbohydrates: 31g (10%)Protein: 2g (4%)Fat: 12g (18%)Saturated Fat: 7g (44%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 32mg (11%)Sodium: 52mg (2%)Potassium: 22mg (1%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 20g (22%)Vitamin A: 363IU (7%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 8mg (1%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Very nice cookies with a wonderful twist. Easy and quick to make, just like regular shortbread. The lemon was very refreshing in these rich cookies and I think it gave a much softer and better flavor than lemon extract would have. The ginger, despite using both ground and crystallized, was a bit weak in the finished shortbread; it was overpowered by the thick lemony glaze, which is much thicker than pictured. Halve the glaze recipe if you prefer a very thin layer or a thready drizzle. Next time I'll mince a bit more crystallized ginger (perhaps a tablespoon or so?) and dot it on the cookies just after spreading the glaze over the warm shortbread. I used a 9-inch tart pan for this, which made it much easier to take the whole shortbread out of the pan for cutting.

I thought the flavor and texture of these glazed lemon ginger shortbread cookies was great. What could have made them even a little greater would be to increase the lemon zest in the shortbread and substitute one of the tablespoons of cream with fresh-squeezed lemon juice instead. For me when it comes to lemon, either go big or go home. And a little extra lemon could easily stand up to the spiciness of the ginger.

This also wasn't as sandy-crumbly as a typical shortbread which I think was due to the chewiness of the added crystallized ginger. Or, maybe the shortbread was still slightly chewy because we greedily devoured them before they had cooled 100% completely. Either way, I thought it was a delicious treat that was easily made from things I almost always happen to have sitting around in my pantry and fridge.

If you love shortbread, you'll love these glazed lemon ginger shortbread cookies. Super simple to make with a total hands-on time of about 8 minutes including icing them. The lemon and ginger are the perfect amounts, allowing the butter to still be the star. The crystallized ginger adds a nice touch to each bite and the icing enhances the delicious lemon flavor.

These baked in 27 minutes, making the total time just 35 minutes. It makes 12 pieces, but after one, you'll want another, so I would say this serves 6-8 people. The timing on the icing is accurate.

These cookies are easy to prepare and have a fresh lemon flavor and a slight ginger taste. The glaze gives them an additional freshness, and you can keep them up to 3 days in an airtight container. Make sure you don’t over mix the dough after adding the flour, and, most important, bake them just until they have a creamy beige color.

This shortbread works exactly as written, and is special enough to share as a very elegant dessert for your favourite people. My normal shortbreads are much more ordinary and plain, but the addition of the glaze (the lemon sings out especially here—it's okay to be generous with the zest). The ginger just becomes part of the flavour accord, not standing alone but the sum with the lemon works well. This is a bit sweeter than ‘keep on hand for tea’ family recipes, but the lemon helps make that work and it won't be around more than a day or two.

The shortbread was delicious although sweeter than we normally would make, this is a dressed-up and elegant version you'd serve for a dinner with special guests. As mentioned, the overall texture and moisture had actually equilibrated by the next day and was even more pleasing. My husband (more a shortbread expert than I am, his family often had fresh shortbread on hand in a shortbread tin) says any sins of being too sweet could be forgiven with a dollop of clotted creme. Cheeky.

I do have 2 tips—line the 9” cake pan with a circle of parchment (ideally cut it about 11-12”) and crease the edges up the sides - it allows a perfect removal from the pan after baking. And next, don’t hesitate to make this the day before AND store the pieces in a single layer in an airtight container. This will ensure you don't spoil the surface of the glaze, and the moisture of the shortbread and glaze becomes more even.

The first thing about this recipe is that the glaze came together fantastic. I didn't use an electric mixer and I didn't need to. Just whipped it with a whisk and it came together quite nicely.

In the second step for making the shortbread, I followed the recipe exactly. I probably mixed for about 4 minutes and the mixture was so dry and crumbly, it just wouldn't come together to form a dough. I added a tablespoon of water and let it beat about another minute, and it finally came together. I don't know if it was just the humidity or the recipe itself. It didn't end up being a big deal. I had baked the shortbread for a full 43 minutes before I thought it was ready to come out of the oven. I let it cool for 10 minutes before adding the glaze.

I ate one small square last night while it was still a bit warm, and I ate another one today. I thought today it was even better than it was last night. The specks of the crystallized ginger made it so delicious. If I had to change anything about the recipe it would be the addition of the tablespoon of water (which I had to change to make it come together) and would make the timing 38-43 minutes. I also probably would have cut the measurements down on the glaze. I used it all, but today I think it has a little too much glaze on it. I fear for my diet this week with this and me in the house.

I can't stop eating these—they're that good. These are perfect and might be my favorite sweet recipe so far. The shortbread is somewhat dense and a little chewy but yet there's still a crunch on the outside. The glaze on top literally takes this over the top. At first, I thought that the slices were going to be too big. That was until I tasted one and promptly had to have another one. Trust me, they are a perfect size.

One thing that I especially enjoyed about this recipe was how the flavors blended and complimented each other. The shortbread was buttery and sweet, lemony, and gingery. All of these flavors blended together in perfect harmony. At the end of each bite, you will notice a little bit of spiciness from the ginger. Delicious!

Making the shortbread and glaze was simple and quick. It took me about 65 minutes (including baking time) from start to finish. Everything mixes very quickly and then you just press it into the cake pan and bake. I did forget to add the crystallized ginger before the flour when I was mixing everything together. It mixed in very easily after the flour and problem solved! The shortbread came out of the pan with no problem and I sliced and glazed. I couldn't help myself and had to have one while they were still warm. Sooooo good.

Mine only lasted two days and then they were gone. There was no change in the texture or taste in that time frame.


Originally published October 23, 2002

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