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Recipe category: Desserts | All categories

Meyer lemon lavender shortbread

Meyer lemon lavender shortbread
Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Beyond the colorful decorations and after the initial rush of sugar, holiday cookies are about memories, tradition and sharing with those close to us. Be they humble or ornate, our baked goods are used to celebrate and give thanks — thanks for our childhoods, the blessings of family and friends and the magic that can be found only this time of year.

This fall, we again asked L.A. Times readers to share their special cookie recipes with us for our fourth annual Holiday Cookie Bake-Off and then to help us narrow down their favorites to the top 50.

We received more than 250 submissions, and more than 3,700 votes were cast. We took the top vote-getters to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, where students spent one Saturday morning baking batches of cookies. L.A. Times Food Editor Russ Parsons, Deputy Food Editor Betty Hallock and Times Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter joined KCRW's "Good Food" host, Evan Kleiman, to taste and test each cookie, narrowing it to our 10 favorites.

Earlier this week, the L.A. Times Test Kitchen was jammed with happy bakers and their helpers for this year's photo shoot. Amazing cookies, memories and traditions were shared. The Czechoslovakian nut bars bring back memories of a finalist's Slovak heritage. The holiday crescent cookies bring sisters together one afternoon each year to bake in their mother's honor. The frosted orange crispies were given to a finalist years ago by a military wife; she would serve her cookies on a silver tray at the officers club. The candy cane chocolate mandel bread is a merging of holidays for one family, Hanukkah and Christmas honored together.

As much as holiday cookies might keep memories and tradition alive, they also help to share memories and traditions with new friends in new places. One family is known far and wide for its chocolate peppermint snaps: "Everywhere we have lived — Madrid, Nairobi, Suva, SoCal — we've given these cookies as Christmas gifts to friends."

Total time: 45 minutes, plus chilling time | Makes 20 cookies
Note: "My neighbor had an overflowing Meyer lemon tree and would leave bags of lemons on my porch. What to do with all those lemons? Meyer lemon lavender shortbread cookies! The perfect combination of sweet, tart and savory." — Deb Love
  • 1 teaspoon dried lavender
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Finely grated zest from one to two Meyer lemons (approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup (4.25 ounces) flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut in ½-inch cubes
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Step 1With a food processor running, drop the lavender through the tube. Add sugar and lemon zest, and pulse until combined, then add flour and salt and pulse.

Step 2Add butter and pulse until just incorporated. Continue pulsing while adding the lemon juice through the tube, just until dough forms a ball.

Step 3 Roll the ball into a log about 10 inches long, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour. (Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month — slightly thaw before cutting and baking.)

Step 4Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the log crosswise into one-half-inch slices and arrange on an ungreased baking sheet, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake until the edges are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cookies on a rack.

Each cookie:
Calories 76; Protein 1 gram; Carbohydrates 8 grams; Fiber 0; Fat 5 grams; Saturated fat 3 grams; Cholesterol 12 mg; Sugar 3 grams; Sodium 8 mg
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