Today’s post and recipe are dedicated to my cool Aunt Roxanne.
Every girl needs a “cool aunt.” When you are younger, your cool aunt takes you to her neighborhood pool, where you sip Fresca, munch the Cool Ranch Doritos your mom refuses to buy, and gossip about boys. When you are older, your cool aunt takes you to her favorite Mexican restaurant, where you slurp Margaritas, eat too much queso dip, and gossip about boys. Your cool aunt has the right advice for any situation, makes friends everywhere she goes, and is probably the most stylish person you have ever met. All of the above and more perfectly describes my cool Aunt Roxanne.
Last week, I received the shocking news that Roxanne had passed away unexpectedly. A cherished friend, aunt, sister, and daughter, she was taken from us too soon at the young age of 54.
Times of grief and heartbreak often leave me feeling powerless. I am not gifted with eloquence to offer soft words of comfort like my sister, with practicality and organization to accomplish important tasks like my mom, or with perspective to see the bigger picture like Ben. Most of the time, I find myself wandering aimlessly, trying to look busy, but really having no clue what I should do or how I should feel.
My default course of action when helpless: I bake.
The most dreadful of events—the death of a loved one; a natural disaster; an undeserved, violent attack— are often the ones I observe to be the most senseless. Faced with inexplicable, irrational tragedy, I find solace in the consistency and predictability of baking. A certain amount of specific ingredients, combined in a certain order, yield (almost) certain results. In my tiny kitchen-corner of the world, I can assert a measure of authority and define my dessert destiny. In a faulty world, it is comforting to reaffirm that butter and sugar will still whip into a sweet, fluffy frenzy.
Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing are a tribute to my Aunt Roxanne. In the words of a friend, Roxanne was “sassy, classy, and fun.” With their bright flavor and classic flair, Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing are a tribute to her shining personality.
Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing are everything a shortbread cookie should be—buttery and tender with a nice crisp—with a bonus burst of citrus energy. Just as Roxanne brought life and excitement everywhere she went, these cookies will boost your mood and animate your spirit.
And they sparkle! A final dusting of sanding sugar adds extra pizazz to Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing. I choose pink in honor of Roxanne’s battle with breast cancer; I choose the sparkliest pink available, because Roxanne was a lady that lit up a room.
All of our lives could use a bit of extra shine, so why not start with our cookies?
Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing have a classic, comforting taste that is solace until itself. Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread eptimomizes how truly delightful the unity of three simple ingredients—butter, sugar, and flour—can be, and the sunny citrus will brighten your spirit.
Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing will bring joy to your day and a bit of comfort to your world; I know they have to mine. Thank you for allowing me to remember my cool Aunt Roxanne to share this bit of baked peace with you.
Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing
For the Lemon Shortbread:
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 and 1/2 sticks) at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lightly packed lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- Sanding sugar (optional for decorating)
For the Lemon Icing:
- 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon milk plus more as needed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment) mix together the butter and sugar on low speed, just until combined. Still on low, add lemon zest, vanilla, flour and salt. Mix only until the dough comes together. It will be very crumbly.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into a flat disk, wrap in plastic, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Once the dough has chilled, roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle or square. Using a cookie cutter lightly dipped in flour, cut out cookies, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat (if not using parchment paper or a silpat, simply leave the cookie sheet ungreased).
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, prepare the Lemon Icing: Mix together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add milk one teaspoon at a time until the desired consistence is reached. Drizzle over cooled cookies. Sprinkle with sanding sugar and serve.
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