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Lemon-Poppy Seed Shortbread

I love shortbread and already have several [1] recipes [2] that are exceptional. This recipe by Claudia Fleming is so good that it has me wondering if I need any other.

Claudia Fleming was the pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern and is responsible for possibly the greatest dessert cookbook ever published, The Last Course. It is the only cookbook I have that makes me want to cook every single recipe (I’m working on it). Seriously good stuff, the type of sophisticated and satisfying recipes that you dream about. Fleming is now one of the people who run the North Fork Inn [3] on Long Island. Though I haven’t been to the inn yet (October!) I can appreciate the desire to leave Manhattan and spend some time among the organic farms and vineyards on the beautiful north fork of Long Island. I think all of us city dwellers dream of escaping once in a while. Bryan and I are always dreaming of moving east to a small town where we can see the stars and plant a garden in our yard. Until that happens, we settle for farmers markets and containers of herbs on our porch.

In case you need more convincing to try these cookies, remember Fleming gave us the recipe for the Chocolate Caramel tart [4] a few posts back. The woman is a genius. She manages to transform the already wonderful shortbread cookie into something even more special. The butteriness of shortbread is now paired with tart lemon and poppy seeds to make a very addictive cookie.

Keep in mind that poppy seeds, like nuts, can go rancid pretty quickly so make sure yours are fresh and store them in the fridge. This recipe makes about 20 cookies and they keep in an air tight container for at least a week, although I doubt they’ll be around that long.

Lemon-Poppy Seed Shortbread (Claudia Fleming, The Last Course)

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth, about two minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla and beat well.

In a bowl, combine the flour, poppy seeds, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Form the dough into a disk and, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Preheat oven to 300° F. Roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper to a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. return dough to refrigerator for an additional 30 minutes. Cut the shortbread into shapes with a two-inch cookie cutter, or use a knife, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Do not reroll scraps, if using cookie cutter. Prick shortbread with a fork and bake until pale golden all over, 23 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.