I love surprises and I love surprising others.
A homemade sweet treat nestled into a fancy wooden hinged box that’s closed up tight is a lovely surprise for a friend.
First, I must tell you that the wooden box was loaned to me by a friend when I needed a carrying case for a fragile sweet treat that I had created. So, I guess this is a story of a recycled wooden box.
The little pots of fresh herbs that I had brought home from the greenhouse were waiting to be planted in their new home outdoors. Actually, they’re still waiting. I think warm weather may have finally arrived. Lemon thyme was among the group of forlorn little plants. Lemon thyme looks and grows like traditional thyme. But the fragrance of this thyme is definitely lemon and so is the flavor. It usually grows as a perennial and is quite hardy. Once you have added it to your garden, you will have a great time experimenting with it. I add lemon thyme to sugar cookies, pound cake, frosting, and marinade for chicken and fish.
With some of my favorite butter from Hope creamery in my refrigerator, I knew I had to make more shortbread.
A large square of buttery, melt-in-the-mouth shortbread that would just fit inside of the wooden box would be perfect. I started with the recipe for Lavender-Ginger Shortbread that I posted on this blog on May 4th. I replaced the lavender with some chopped lemon thyme leaves and added some freshly grated lemon zest along with some minced crystallized ginger.
I baked one half of the dough in a round cake pan. The other half of the dough I shaped into a square that would be just the right size to fit into the wooden box. I baked it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
After lining the box with parchment paper and a paper doily, the shortbread fit snugly into the wooden container.
The box, filled with freshly baked lemony shortbread went back to the friend who loaned it to me. She was surprised. I wonder where the box will go next.
But that’s not the end of the story. I still had 8 little wedges from the shortbread I baked in the round cake pan. I wrapped each one tightly in plastic wrap, tied a pretty pastel ribbon around each and gave them away as little surprise gifts.
Lemon Thyme-Ginger Shortbread can become wonderful sweet surprises and make many people happy.
Lemon Thyme-Ginger Shortbread
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour or cake flour
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1 cup butter, chilled
- 1 to 3 tablespoons very finely minced crystallized ginger
- 2 tablespoons sparkling sugar for sprinkling, divided (I used India Tree Sparkling Sugar)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (8-inch) round cake pans
with parchment paper so that it comes up over the sides of the pans. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, place both flours,
powdered sugar, and salt. Stir to mix. Cut butter into
small cubes and add to dry ingredients in
bowl. Use hands to mix until crumbly. Add lemon thyme, lemon zest and ginger and continue
to mix with hands until mixture comes together. Gather dough together
and place on
a work surface. Divide dough in half.
Pat each half into prepared pans. Pull out of the pan by holding edge of parchment
on work surface. Flute the edge
with your fingers. Prick each round all over with a fork, then score with
knife into 8 wedges. Pick up each round with parchment and place back
baking pans. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar over dough in each pan.
Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or
until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle
remaining sugar over baked shortbread, 1 1/2 teaspoons on each. Cool on
wire rack. (The smell of warm butter, sugar, ginger and lemon will
be seductive and you’ll want to start eating the warm shortbread. But
don’t. The shortbread will taste best when it reaches room
temperature.) Remove shortbread from pans by pulling up on the
parchment paper. Use sharp knife to cut the shortbread where it was
scored, forming a total of 16 wedges.
Tip from the cook
I find India Tree sparkling sugar in my local grocery store. Sparkling sugar is also available in a 1-pound bag from King Arthur Flour.