When I was first approached by the editors of Babble.com to write for The Family Kitchen, I immediately thought of all my favorite food blogging websites I could share with a larger audience. In recent years, I’ve looked more and more to food blogs for recipe inspirations. And I’ve made some great friends along the way as I’ve become more engaged in this wonderful community.
When I discovered Dawn Viola’s website Wicked Good Dinner… I quickly became a big fan and we became friends. If you follow my blog, you know that I’m a believer in whole, natural (and primarily organic) ingredients. Dawn takes that philosophy to the next level by specializing in recipes that also address food allergies and gluten-free dishes. There is no sacrifice of flavor in her creations. And there is no limit to her ingenuity.
And that leads me to Dawn’s wonderful shortbread bars infused with lemon and thyme… these flavors were just meant to be together. Make them and put them in a gift basket for Mother’s Day or a special teacher. It’s a perfect treat for Spring.
Lemon-Thyme Shortbread Bars – The Recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Allergy Info: soy-free; contains wheat, gluten, dairy
3 cups all-purpose flour
8 ounces salted butter, softened (16 tablespoons)
1 cup organic sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9×12-inch sheet pan or baking pan with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment, combine flour, butter, sugar, zest, thyme and vanilla on low speed until flour is absorbed. Increase speed to medium-high; mix until a crumbly dough is formed. Gather dough into a smooth ball and press evenly into prepared pan. Score dough with a knife (without cutting all the way through) into squares or rectangles. Using the tines of a fork, pierce each section of shortbread three times.
Place pan in oven. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove pan from oven. Using a knife, cut shortbread along score lines; set aside, allow to cool 1 hour. Once cooled and firm, break bars apart along the score lines and serve. To store, transfer shortbread to an airtight container up to 7 days, or freeze up to 1 month.
Shortbread nirvana and your oven:
To achieve shortbread nirvana, you’ll have to commit to your oven the first time you bake these, or you could end up with some unpredictable results. Because every oven is different — some run hot, some run cool, which can cause uneven cooking — you’ll need to keep an eye on things. After the first 30 minutes of baking, stay put and check your shortbread every 10 minutes until perfection and record any time differences.
About vanilla extract
Do you know some vanilla extracts contain corn syrup? Even the organic brands can sneak that into their formulas, so read labels carefully.
Many flavors can be added to the base shortbread recipe (flour, butter, sugar). Replace the lemon zest with orange or lime zest, and the thyme with rosemary or Greek oregano. Or toasted, shredded coconut with a splash of almond extract is always a favorite in our family. The recipe can also be made savory by replacing the sugar with Parmesan cheese. The texture will be more crumbly, with an intense cheese flavor. Include savory mix-ins such as fresh herbs, cracked black pepper, roasted garlic or toasted caraway seeds.
photo credit: Dawn Viola – Wicked Good Dinner
Understanding Organic Ingredients: Babble’s Organic Food Buying Guide!