April 20, 2014

Lemon Cookies

It finally feels like Spring. It's warm and breezy and sunny, so I want something refreshing. The first flavor that comes to mind is lemon. Lemon cookies, in fact. The tart sourness of the lemon counters the sweetness of the cookies, and everything is topped off with a luscious lemony glaze. I actually had to make two batches in one day; the first recipe I used made cookies that spread out so much that my grandparents were all excited because they thought I made pancakes for everyone. Since I had plenty of lemons, I tried a new recipe, which baked perfectly.

This recipe will satisfy all kinds of cookie lovers. The edges get nice and crispy but the center stays soft and chewy. You can spread some of the glaze on top of one cookie, stick another on top, and enjoy lemon cookie sandwiches oreo-style. Or you could just douse them in glaze and enjoy the mess. Either way works. To make glazes, I usually just whisk powdered sugar and some sort of liquid and/or flavoring together. However, I use a spoonful of cream cheese in this recipe so that I get an opaque white glaze with an extra bit of tanginess. It's just as easy, but make sure your cream cheese is soft and you store the glazed cookies in the refrigerator.

These cookies do look pretty simple, but they are elegant enough for any occasion. The glaze dresses them up a bit, and I found some sprinkles perfect for Easter. You can also shave on some lemon zest, especially if you have one of the zesters that makes beautiful strands of zest instead of tiny flakes, although those would work well too.

The main secret to these cookies is the lemon sugar. I'm sure you could spend a few hours on the internet tracking down some overpriced gourmet stuff, but it is so easy to make your own. Simply zest your lemons and rub it into the sugar. Make sure you work quickly, though, because the zest will dry out and the natural oils won't permeate the sugar. If you do it properly, you should end up with slightly damp sugar with a very pale yellow hue, and it should smell lemony even without bits of zest. I do this before I beat the sugar and butter together so I know that the sugar is lemony enough. If you want a stronger lemon flavor, I recommend adding more zest instead of juice because it doesn't alter the texture as much. You could easily use oranges, limes, or a combination of any of the three instead; the pop of citrus is the perfect way to start Spring!

2 Cups + 2 T Flour
1 T Cornstarch
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
1 ½ Sticks Butter, Softened
1 ¼ Cups Sugar
3 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 T Lemon Zest
6 T Lemon Juice
1 Egg
1 Egg Yolk
1 ½ tsp Vanilla
2 T Cream Cheese, Softened

Heat oven to 350F and line cookie trays with parchment.

Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt together. Rub the sugar and lemon zest together.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and lemon sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk, then stir in 2 T lemon juice and the vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared trays and bake for 10 minutes or until just golden on the edges.

Whisk the cream cheese and remaining lemon juice together. Stir in the powdered sugar and drizzle on the cooled cookies.

Makes 28
Recipe Adapted from Cooking Classy