I had been wanting to bake something for Mothers' Day, but I just wasn't sure what. We had planned to have my mother over for morning tea, which was also going to double as breakfast for me. Husband was making pancakes, and I was serving (store-bought) mini croissants, so I didn't want to bake cupcakes or anything that would be too substantial. Just something light and small and gorgeous.
Then I found this recipe over at Sweetapolita. It is a cupcake recipe, and it looks amazing, but the bit I was really interested in this time was her topper: little lemon and lavender shortbread cookies. Hurrah, I thought. That's what I want. A short search of my pantry revealed that I had run out of dried lavender, and that despite a quite bewildering number of limes on our trees, there was not one ripe lemon to be had.
This was nine pm the night before Mothers' Day. Procuring extra ingredients was not an option.
So I improvised. Instead of the tablespoon of lemon zest and teaspoon of lavender, I opted for the zest of just one lime (I was going for subtlety), a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, and just a whiff of rose... I also decided to add some rice flour - I love that sandy texture it gives shortbread, and I know my mum does too.
The end result was delicious. The flavour is very subtle - if you want to actually be able to taste the rose flavour properly, you might want to up the quantity (or perhaps dust the cookies with some rose-scented icing sugar just before serving - that would be pretty). As it stands, the rose just adds a little bit of complexity to the flavour, without actually being noticeable.
I made mini cookies for us to eat on the day, and larger ones to package up and put in with Mum's present (I added a royal icing and sanding sugar centre to those ones, too).
I'd still like to try Sweetapolita's recipe in its entirety once I get hold of some more lavender - but for us today, these were perfect.
Vanilla-Lime Shortbread Bites (adapted - slightly - from Sweetapolita)
60g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or the seeds from a vanilla pod)
Zest from one large lime (or two small ones)
About six drops of rosewater essence (or a little more if you want to really taste it - but don't overdo it)
190g Plain flour
25g rice flour
1/4 tsp of salt (if you're using unsalted butter. Otherwise, just a small pinch)
Beat butter on medium speed until smooth. Add icing sugar and beat for two minutes. Beat in vanilla, zest and rosewater essence. Add flours and salt and stir until all incorporated.
Wrap the mixture in plastic and chill it for at least an hour - seriously, at least. This mixture is very short, and it's very squishy. When firm enough, roll it out between two sheets of baking paper. Cut into pretty shapes, and chill them again on the baking tray (or freeze them as I did), before baking at 180 degrees Celsius for around 10 minutes (until they don't look wet anymore, and are just beginning to turn pale golden at the edges).
Oh, and Happy Mothers' Day, to all the mums out there - but especially to mine. Love you!