Lemon, White Chocolate, and Blueberry Shortbread

Hi guys! So what have you been up to? Summer is in full swing now--are you sunning, doing some day drinking, searching for ways for your out-of-school children to not drive you bananas? I've just taken a mini-vacation of sorts around here, letting my writer's brain turn off for a while. But I've not just been hanging around here watching DVR'd Barefoot Contessa episodes. First there was the business of getting cookbook number two to the printers (!!!). Then there was a bit of travel, a bit of life catch-up, Little C's first ballet recital (so proud I literally exploded in a cloud of tulle and sequins). Also, puppy chasing and some much-needed reading of actual books with real paper pages in them. Grand!

This recent blog vacation actually came right after a quick trip to New York, where we shot a demo for a TV project I've had rattling in my brain for many months. Like many things in the television world, it could be something, it could be nothing, but dang, we had a great time shooting. If you've never had a chance to gather with a lively bunch of Long Island ladies and some sweets-loving friends. and a table full of delicious baked things, well, what are you waiting for?! It was a grand time, and the turnout of personalities and goodies was astounding. Naturally, I'll keep you all posted when there's something to report. In the meantime, I'll just keep dreaming of the 100-year-old apple kuchen recipe that was brought by one fabulous lady in a hot pink party dress (and a cake! that looked! like an old school diner table!). Swoon, on all levels.

So about these cookies. To be totally honest, these were cleared from our cookie jar weeks ago, in no time flat. If you've visited these parts before, you may have already heard about my unnatural obsession with the pairing of lemon and white chocolate, and tendency to throw blueberries in to the mix as well. It's just such a great combination--fresh and fruity, yes, but made luxurious by the creaminess of the white chocolate. And when you throw it all into a base of a sweet-salty shortbread? BOOM. Magic! I die.

The thing that I really love about these cookies beyond the flavor pairing is the way the bits of white chocolate that are exposed during baking actually caramelize, adding an even more chew-and-sigh-inducing experience to the mix. I've seen the use the roasted white chocolate pop up here and there in recipes and pastry menus, with white chocolate literally being roasted in a layer on a sheet pan and then added to a complex composed dessert situation. But I think this application, with the nuggets of white chocolate being thrown into a slice-and-bake cookie, is just a bit more Real World Baking Person, don't you think?

Lemon, White Chocolate, and Blueberry Shortbread Makes 4 dozen 2 1/2-inch cookies

This recipe halves perfectly, if you fear having 4 dozen cookies near your person, as I often do. But really, you might as well just make the whole batch, bake one log, and freeze the other for future enjoyment. Call it the Girl Scout Thin Mint Effect. It will be such a great surprise when you find the other log of dough hiding in your icebox.

1 cup granulated sugar 1 heaping tablespoon grated lemon zest 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup dried blueberries 3/4 cup white chocolate bits, chips or chopped bar chocolate

Into the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Using your fingertips, massage the mixture until the zest releases it's oils--the sugar will be incredibly fragrant and moist-looking. Add the butter, vanilla, and salt. Fit the bowl on the mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Stir in the flour. When the flour is incorporated, stir in the blueberries and white chocolate bits.

Line a work surface with plastic wrap. Turn the half the dough out onto it and pat it into a rough plank. Wrap the plastic around the plank and roll the dough with your palms to form a log about 9-by-1 3/4 inches. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Ensure the dough logs are wrapped well and chill until very firm, about 3 hours.

When you're ready to bake, adjust oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Slice each log into 2 dozen even slices, each about 1/3 inch-thick. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking, until the edges of the cookies turn golden brown and are mostly firm to the touch all over. Cool on the baking sheets for one minute then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

CookiesShauna Sever