meyer lemon shortbread & orange ginger jam

I have two great (and somewhat quirky) recipes to share today, both centered on winter citrus.  We’ve been plowing through citrus lately – eating it tossed into salads, sliced simply for dessert, and piled next to scones for Sunday breakfast.  It’s a little bit of February sunshine, and since I spent my full travel budget for the year all in one go, it’s the only winter sunshine I’m getting this year.  (I still torture myself by obsessively scouring the internet for cheap tickets to Mexico, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and other similarly sun-drenched destinations.  So far [sigh] none are cheap enough.)  But who’s complaining?  I’m wrapped up warm and cozy at home this morning, having got myself another snow day courtesy the Mayor, along with some lovely shortbread and a big jar of jam. 

First, the shortbread.  The recipe here is from David Tanis’ newest book Heart of the Artichoke, a follow up to Platter of Figs, the new book presents similarly seasonally and ingredient driven recipes organized into several dinner menus.  I love the simplicity of all the recipes in Mr. Tanis’ book, especially his approach to desserts.  Many of the “recipes” for desserts are more serving suggestions – a plate of sliced oranges and dates for example, a few muddled berries in a glass of prosecco, or some nice cheese with honey and almonds.  The shortbread are a similarly simple dessert idea – served alongside some limoncello or tea, they would be a lovely end to a winter meal.

Essentially, they are flattened lemon bars – imagine you took a steam roller to a pan of lemon bars, this is what you would find left over.  I followed the recipe exactly and baked the shortbread in a regular cookie sheet.  This yielded very thin shortbread – no more than ¼ inch thick.  The original recipe had no specific instructions for what size pan to use, but as my shortbread baked in under half the suggested time, I suspect a 9×13 pan might be more the idea here.  Either way, these were crazy-delicious – crisp shortbread with just a smear of bright and creamy lemon curd. 

And now, the jam.  All the citrus we’ve eating lately has left me with plenty of what I can only call the “carcasses” – the empty shells, mostly pith but with some flesh too, left after cutting out orange sections.  It seems such a waste to toss these so I collected them in a Tupperware in the fridge, which once full, I dumped out into a sauce pan and cooked down with some sugar and candied ginger.  The result was something close to marmalade, but without the peel.  Full of bright orange flavor, and warmed by ginger, I’ve been enjoying it smeared on toast and mixed it into yogurt for breakfast.  Like making stock after roasting a chicken, I love kitchen projects that make the most of ingredients on hand.  I used a mixture cara cara oranges and blood oranges here, but I think the recipe would work well with any citrus – you’ll have to up the sugar a bit if you use grapefruits or lemons.

Meyer Lemon Shortbread

For the Shortbread

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 tbsp, 1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into small squares  

For the Curd

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • Finely grated zest of one well-washed meyer lemon (a regular lemon works also)
  • ½ cup fresh meyer lemon juice (from about 3 meyer lemons; likewise regular lemons work too.)
  • Powdered sugar for toping

Make the Shortbread:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.  Add the butter and mix with your hands until crumbly.  Press the mixture into a baking pan (I would use a 9×13).  Bake until lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes. 

Make the Curd:  Meanwhile, combine the eggs, yolks, sugar, corn starch, zest, and juice in a small bowl.  Whisk well.  When the shortbread is done pour the curd over the crust and bake 10-20 minutes until set.  (Mine took only 10 minutes to set in a cookie sheet, but it will likely take more in a 9×13 pan; the original recipe calls for 30 minutes of baking time.) 

Remove and cool at least 1 hour, then, using a sharp chefs knife, cut the shortbread into squares and top with powdered sugar. 

Orange Ginger Jam

  • 2 ¼ lbs orange “carcasses”
  • 1 cup, 7 ½ oz granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped candied ginger

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Simmer at least 1 hour or until the oranges are completely broken down and the mixture is thick.  Taste for sweetness and adjust as needed.  Transfer the jam to a jar or Tupperware container and refrigerate.  Keeps well at least 1 month.