15 November 2013

Nigella Challenge: Lemon Gems

If you like lemon, you'll like these. And if you want something a little more refined for afternoon/morning tea than a standard choc chip cookie, then these are perfect. They are super easy and you can whip them up if you have unexpected guests drop by. The curd goes on to a still hot-from-the-oven biscuit.

They may seem a bit strange at first as the curd contrasts A LOT with the shortbread-like biscuit, but it really is a good thing.

I would suggest making your own curd (try this one). I generally make a lemon version of the lime curd in How to be a Domestic Goddess and I always have a jar in the fridge (I love it on ice cream!), but I'm not up to posting it yet! Check your Women's Weekly or CWA cookbooks too - anything old fashioned will have a good, simple recipe. If not, you can buy it in supermarkets (usually near the jam).

The vegetable shortening is necessary. The first time I made these I used it, but the second time I didn't and the difference was obvious. With the shortening the biscuit crumbles wonderfully, as it takes on a shortbread texture that just isn't quite there with the butter. All butter is just a bit to rich. Who'd of thought I'd advocate you not use butter!
  • 125g vegetable shortening, softened (I used copha this time, but you will find other kinds next to the butter in the supermarket fridges)
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 275g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 25g cornflour
  • 6-7 tablespoons of lemon curd
Preheat oven to 180C. Line or grease 2 baking sheets.

Beat together the shortening, butter and sugar. Add the egg yolk, lemon zest and juice. You can use an electric mixer here, but we aren't really creaming so its not necessary - go ahead and give yourself an arm work out.

Fold in the flour, almonds and cornflour. Do this gently - it should be just combined. It's very sticky so it goes in the fridge to chill for an hour.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll into cherry tomato sized balls. Space these evenly on your baking sheets. Make an indentation in each biscuit (see the picture below). Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

The moment they come out of the oven fill the indentation on each biscuit with 1/2 a teaspoon of lemon curd. Then transfer them from the baking sheet to wire racks to cool.