Surprise your Sweetheart with some homemade sunshine! These Meyer Lemon & Cranberry Shortbread Cookies are perfect for Valentine’s Day – or any day!
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Brief and fleeting, Meyer lemon season is anticipated by cooks and bakers everywhere. But what makes Meyer lemons so special?
Thought to be a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange, Meyer lemons bring a bright, naturally sweet, slightly tart punch to everything they touch. In addition to being sweeter than a regular lemon, they are generally smaller, with a scent noses more civilized than mine describe as “a spicy bergamot fragrance that tastes and smells more like an herb or a spice.” Meyer lemons start arriving in US stores around the end of November and disappear by late March.
Meyer lemons were first introduced to the US in 1908 by agricultural explorer (LOVE that job title!) Frank Meyer of the US Department of Agriculture. It seems Frank brought a sample home with him from a trip to China, where they are often grown ornamentally; however, Meyer lemons didn’t take off in culinary circles until the late 1990’s, when celebrity chefs “discovered” them and made them popular with their audiences.
I’d been toying with the idea of making cranberry shortbread hearts for Valentine’s Day this year for some time, but I hadn’t quite committed to the idea until I stumbled onto a bag of Meyer lemons last week. I was certain that the Meyer’s complex citrus profile, combined with the tart-sweet of dried cranberries, would elevate this unassumingly little tea cookie to the next level. Turns out, I was right! 🍋 😃
Meyer Lemon & Cranberry Shortbread CookiesPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted and divided
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Zest of 2 Meyer Lemons (See notes)
- 1 1/2 cups dried sweetened cranberries
- Combine flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a food processor or blender jar, pulse cranberries and 1/4 cup powdered sugar together until cranberries are about the size of coarsely chopped nuts. The powdered sugar will keep them from getting too clumpy, but don't pulse too long or you will have puree. Set chopped cranberries aside.
- With an electric mixer, beat butter on high until it is very light and fluffy - at least 5 minutes. Beat in remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar and beat until vey smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla and zest and mix to thoroughly combine.
- Mix in chopped cranberries.
- Add flour mixture and mix on low just until dough forms a ball on comes away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
- Remove dough from bowl and form into two logs about 1 1/4" - 1 1/2" in diameter. (Tip: Two shorter logs are much easier to work with than one long log.) Chill 1 hour.
- If you just want to keep things simple and make shortbread rounds, leave the dough-logs in the fridge for two hours and proceed to "Baking" steps.
How to form Heart-shaped Shortbread Log
- After one hour, remove prepared dough logs from refrigerator.
- With the shortbread dough still in plastic wrap, shape the bottom point of the heart by resting the log on a cutting board and using the back of a spatula perpendicularly against a cutting board to form a point. (You will need to rotate the log from one side to the other a couple of times to get it all even.) When you have the bottom point the way you want it, use a large skewer or chopstick to form the indentation opposite the point. I spend a little time hand-shaping the curves so they look like they should.
- If your heart doesn't look the way you want it, just round it up and pop it back into the fridge for about 10 minutes; then you can get a fresh start.
- Once your Heart-Log is shaped the way you want, pop it back into the fridge for at least another hour before slicing.
- Preheat oven to 350° F [175° C].
- Using a clean, sharp knife, slice cookies 1/4" - 3/8" thick and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
- Arrange shortbread slices on baking sheet about 3/4" apart. Bake in preheated oven 8-9 minutes, or until just firm. Watch carefully, and do not allow edges to brown.
One of the keys to this recipe is the whipped butter. Make sure that your your butter is at room temperature then put it into the mixer bowl, start your mixer and *walk away.* I cream the butter for no less than 5 minutes before adding anything else. The butter should be very pale before you move on to the next step.
Pairing Notes: These sweet little shortbread tea cookies pair especially well with a cup of Earl Grey!
Looking for more delicious Meyer Lemon Recipes?
Check out 30+ Meyer Lemons Recipes to Brighten Your Day!
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