I never imagined I’d find baking inspiration (or inspiration of any sort, frankly) at an airport. Yet this is what happened last week.

Our flight out of Minneapolis was delayed, so I wandered over to the French Meadow Bakery and bought an orange-rosemary shortbread. It was just what shortbread should be- so buttery- and I loved the subtle tones of the orange zest and rosemary. As I ate it, I decided I’d make something similar as soon as I got home.

On the plane back to New York, I perused the new Martha Stewart Living (which, I must say, is one of the most enjoyable issues of the publication I’ve seen to date). In the magazine, there’s a beautifully photographed feature on the Brooklyn based Belocq Tea Atelier, along with a slew of recipes utilizing tea that sound positively amazing. One of the recipes- the jasmine shortbread sandwiches with grapefruit curd- was the jumping off point for the cookies you see here. I thought the idea of spreading citrus curd between thin shortbreads was positively genius, but I wanted to use citrus zest instead of jasmine tea to flavor the shortbreads, and I wanted to try a mixed citrus curd instead of one made solely from grapefruit.

lemon shortbread sandwich cookies

Long before I finished unpacking from our ski trip- not to mention cleaning up the mess my dogs made while we were away (I really think they may have had a party!)- I ran out to the store to load up on the fruit I needed to make these cookies. I bought pink grapefruit, organic blood oranges, and organic Meyer lemons.

mixed citrus

Being away for a week meant there was a ridiculous amount of eggs from my hens piled up, and I figured a curd would be a great way to use some of them. I based my curd off this recipe that I blogged about last winter, and the result was so delicious, I could live on the stuff if that was an acceptable thing to do. I must tell you, however, that before I started making my own lemon and other varieties of curd, the only other curd I’d sampled was a jarred one I found at the supermarket a while back, and it wasn’t very good at all. So when making curd, I rely on my taste buds to guide me, not a memory of what I believe the curd should be. I like my curd sweet and creamy, and just slightly tart, with only a small amount of zest.

(While we’re talking curd, why is it that curd is called curd? It’s such an ugly word for such a beautiful food…and I love Kate’s musings on the subject).

Once the curd was chilling and thickening up, I made the shortbread dough. I shaped it into two logs, and pressed the edges down so the slices of the shortbread would be square-ish, not round (feel free not to do this- circle shaped shortbread are perfectly awesome). Then I wrapped the logs in plastic and refrigerated them overnight.

Once they were thinly sliced, I pressed the raw shortbread squares into organic sugar on one side, then baked them off. When they were cool, I spread the “un-sugared” sides with the curd…

spreading lemon curd

…then topped the curd with another shortbread, sugared side out.

The shortbreads alone are rich, but not overly so, and they’re definitely not too sweet. When combined with the curd, however, they’re positively dreamy. I purposely made them small, so eating 2 (or, um, 4) isn’t anything to feel (terrible) guilty about. If you’d rather roll out your dough and cut it into shapes with a cookie cutter, however, you can go wild and make them as big as you like.

Recipe for Citrus Shortbread Sandwiches Filled with Mixed Citrus Curd

Yield: Makes about 50 small shortbreads or 25 sandwich cookies

This curd recipe makes about 3 cups, and you probably won't need all of it for the sandwich cookies. Store the leftovers in the refrigerator for a week or two, and I am sure you'll find lots of other ways to use it...this post from Katie has some great ideas.

Ingredients:

For the citrus curd:
*1/2 cup (1 stick) organic, unsalted butter
*1 cup organic confectioner's (powdered) sugar
*6 whole eggs plus 6 egg yolks, preferably organic and free-range (I used eggs from my backyard chickens)
*1 cup fresh squeezed mixed citrus juice (I used the juice of 1 grapefruit, 2 blood oranges, and 3 Meyer lemons)
*1/2 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest plus 1/2 tablespoon blood orange zest (I didn't zest the pink grapefruit because mine wasn't organic; you can double the zest if you enjoy lots of zest in your curd)
*tiny pinch of sea salt

For the shortbread:
*1 cup (2 sticks) organic, unsalted butter, softened
*3/4 cup organic confectioner's sugar
*1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
*2 cups organic, all-purpose flour
*2 teaspoons Meyer lemon zest plus 2 teaspoons blood orange zest (feel free to use more, if you like)
*1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Directions:

For the citrus curd:
1. In the bowl of electric mixer, cream the butter with the powdered sugar. Beat for 1-2 minutes.

2. On low speed, beat in the whole eggs and the egg yolks. Beat on low for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and beat until mostly combined. Don't worry if it's not smooth (or if it looks curdled).

3. Pour the butter/sugar/eggs/lemon juice into a heavy saucepan and heat over low-medium heat. As you stir with a wooden spoon, you will notice the curd starting to smooth out and thicken. Keeping the heat at low-medium and stirring frequently (do not let it come to a boil), cook for another 5 minutes or so. A candy thermometer inserted at this point should read 165-170 degrees F.

4. Remove pan from the heat to cool. Stir in the lemon zest. Spoon curd into clean jar(s) and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

For the shortbread:
1. Preheat oven to 325° F.

2. Cream butter with confectioner's sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract.

3. Whisk flour with salt and citrus zest in a medium bowl, then add to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix just until the dough comes together (be careful not to overmix).

4. Divide dough into two equal portions, and form into two logs, flattening out the sides if you want your cookies to be square. Wrap in plastic or parchment, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

5. Cut into thin slices (somewhere between 1/8-1/4 inch thick) and gently press one side of each cookie into raw/organic sugar. Place sugar side up on parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet(s). Bake for 17- 20 minutes, or until they are just starting to brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack, then spread half of the non-sugared sides with the citrus curd, and sandwich the cookies together with the remaining shortbread.

Mixed citrus curd adapted from my recipe here; shortbread cookies adapted from Martha Stewart Living magazine.

lemon curd cookie sandwich

For more information about Belocq, please see these two beautiful posts:
Belocq Tea Brooklyn, NY at Eat Boutique
Silent Sunday: Belocq at A Thought For Food

And for a few more lovely citrus curd recipes, check out:
Grapefruit Curd from Blue Kale Road
A Dozen Lemons and Twelve Eggs from Mrs. Wheelbarrow
Blood Orange Curd from Use Real Butter

Also, my blog has been nominated for a “Homie” Award in the Best Healthy Cooking Blog category over at The Kitchn. If you have a minute to register for the site and vote for me, I’d really, really appreciate it!

And one last note: this post (the first photo, to be exact) is my entry into a photo contest sponsored by Feastie…the winner gets a scholarship to Eat Write Retreat!

 

23 Comments

  1. 1

    Carol Sacks — February 29, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

    What a beautiful, refreshing post!

  2. 2

    Jen Kim — February 29, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

    oh how lovely! i already have on my grocery list for tonight to buy meyer lemons and i also haven’t broken my new shortbread cutter in yet. i think these are what i need to brighten up this day, thank you :-)

  3. 3

    Cookie and Kate — February 29, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

    Love this post, Winnie! Shortbread layered with curd would make such a rich and decadent little treat! Mixed citrus curd sounds fun, I’ll try that next time!

  4. 4

    Jo — February 29, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

    I could curl up with just the jar of citrus curd! I’d likely even just dip the cookies in, skip the whole assembly part just to get to the eating.

  5. 5

    Anna @ the shady pine — February 29, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

    Rich shortbread is made all the better with some zesty sharpness….these look so delicious!

  6. 6

    Kathryn — February 29, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

    Oh how lovely. The combination of that creamy curd and the buttery cookies sounds just delightful, a real ray of sunshine!

  7. 7

    Jayne — February 29, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

    Yum! Sounds like a perfect combination!

  8. 8

    shuhan — February 29, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

    I hope you win (: they look freaking delicious, it’s almost hard to believe they’re actually healthy! love the mixed citrus curd! I made lime curd with calamansi limes form my garden last summer and couldn’t get enough of the tangy-sweet flavour, so I’m sure this will be just up my alley!

  9. 9

    Kulsum at JourneyKitchen — March 1, 2012 @ 1:27 am

    ooo the sound of that citrusy shortbread makes me crazy with lust ;-) for desserts!! Beautiful.

    P.S.- Inspiration at the airport? I wish i could see anything beyond fast food chains in our airports!!

  10. 10

    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — March 1, 2012 @ 4:46 am

    Such a lovely cookie. I love the texture of shortbread and the creamy curd is the perfect counterpoint.

  11. 11

    Sara {OneTribeGourmet} — March 1, 2012 @ 7:54 am

    oh my what a tasty little shortbread cookies…love the orangy creamy curd recipe!
    I have been meaning to visit the beautiful Belocq tea atelier store in Brooklyn, I’m a huge fan of there teas!

  12. 12

    Lynda - TasteFood — March 1, 2012 @ 9:48 am

    I love all of your inspiration. Citrus is on my mind too.

  13. 13

    Katie — March 1, 2012 @ 10:36 am

    My mouth was literally watering as I read this post Winnie! I am also sooo inspired by Martha and the amazing painting-like photographs at Bellocq. I love your interpretation of this cookie idea and how your photographs are so quiet and peaceful today. Beautiful!

  14. 14

    Nancy — March 1, 2012 @ 11:01 am

    wow, gorgeous!!! i’d probably eat all the citrus curd right out of the jar and there would be none left for the cookies …. gosh that stuff looks good :)

  15. 15

    The Very Hungry Bookworm — March 1, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

    Those look so delicious! Much more wonderful than anything you can get at the store with all those preservatives and icky things. Thanks for this beautiful recipe!

  16. 16

    Christina @ The Hungry Australian — March 2, 2012 @ 4:19 am

    Your shortbread sandwiches look amazing. Gorgeous photography and styling, too. Thanks for sharing :)

  17. 17

    Deb — March 4, 2012 @ 11:28 am

    As an unabashed citrus lover I am charmed by these delightful shortbread cookies! Just scrumptious.

  18. 18

    Hannah — March 5, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

    I wish I had a plate of your shortbread sandwiches in front of me now, Winnie! Pairing shortbread and curd is brilliant. I love your stunning photos (as always) and wish you the best in the contest! Totally agree with you about the word “curd” – it certainly does not convey its loveliness. I enjoyed reading Kate’s blog post about it, as well.

  19. 19

    Megan @ Purple Dancing Dahlias — March 13, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I love the French Meadow Bakery, my favorite place. Last fall we spent quite a bit of time in the city while my three year old went through chemotherapy and the French Meadow was his favorite place to eat.

  20. 20

    brandi — March 29, 2012 @ 8:42 am

    these sound fantastic. i love citrus curd, and sandwiched between cookies? i don’t think it can get any better.

  21. 21

    The Wimpy Vegetarian — April 4, 2012 @ 11:24 pm

    These look just perfect, Winnie. I think these would be perfect for a casual dinner party we’re having this weekend. I’m so glad I’m catching up on my favorite blogs tonight!

  22. 22

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