Lemon Sugar Cookies

December 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

My room at home is right next to the kitchen, which means I can roll out of bed at 6:30 a.m., still jet-legged, and set about icing holiday cookies. Red and green sugar sprinkles for the gingerbread trees and bells, a lemon glaze for the sugar cookie snowmen and teddy bears, and a thin smear of chocolate sandwiched between two brown-sugar poppy seed wafers.

Most of the year, I am all for innovation and new desserts. But come Christmastime, there are a few cookies that absolutely have to make it on the cookie plate (which, yes, we still put out for Santa). They come from cookbooks with pages falling out, stained with eggs and chocolate. Every year, you have to flip through torn pages, all out of order, past dozens of cookies you’ve never made, until you find what you’re looking for. Yesterday, I made the lemon sugar cookie dough, rolled it out and baked it into pretty shapes. Today, when I woke up to ice them, there were maybe half the number of cookies we had last night. I guess that’s what happens when you go to bed at 9 p.m. and stop keeping an eye on them.

I always like to have a balanced assortment of flavor on my cookie plate. These are the most delicately-flavored of the bunch. The cookie is soft, but with a crisp crumb. Don’t skip out on the glaze, it’s necessary to achieve the full lemony effect and it makes for a nice tart-sweet contrast with the buttery cookie.

Lemon sugar cookies
Adapted from The Christmas Cookie Book by Lou Seibert Pappas

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and lemon zest until smooth. Add the flour and salt and mix to form a dough (this can be done with your hands if you like). Gather the dough into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out the dough on a floured surface less than ¼ inch thick. Use cutters of your choice to cut out cookies. Place cookies on prepared sheets and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Transfer to racks to cool.

To make the glaze, stir together the sugar and lemon sugar. It should be thin and transparent. Spread the glaze on the cooled cookies.

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