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.
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
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)
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.
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.
Originally published October 23, 2002