And so my holiday baking begins, with the first installment of Four Weeks of Cookies. During the month of December, I vow to remain in a constant sugar coma in order to bring you the creme de la creme of holiday cookies. First up, we have a twist on a classic: lemon sugar cookies with a lemon drizzle.
A healthy dose of lemon zest gives these sugar cookies a little zing and the frosting, a simple mixture of fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar, is a beautiful marriage of sweet and sour. One tiny, tangy cookie will leave you thinking, "Well... maybe just one more."
I made this particular batch for my first Hanukkah celebration (!), so I used star and Star of David cookie cutters, but these cookies can be customized for any occasion, given you have the proper cookie cutter. The original recipe was for slice and bake cookies, so if you want circular cookies, don't worry about rolling out the dough with a rolling pin. Simply shape the dough into two logs (about 1 1/2" in diameter) before refrigerating and slice into rounds using a lightly floured knife after the dough has chilled.
Otherwise these babies are a breeze. Have fun decorating!
Lemon Sugar Cookies
Makes 40-50 small cookies
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c sugar
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
1 1/4 c powdered sugar
2 tbsp (or more) fresh lemon juice
Food coloring & sanding sugar for decorating (optional)
To make cookies, first whisk flour and salt in a medium bowl. Next, beat butter, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer, occasionally scraping down sides, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add egg yolks and beat just to blend. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 2 additions, beating just to blend and scraping down the sides as necessary.
Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic and chill until firm, about 1 hour. Dough can be made up to 2 days ahead of time.
Remove dough from the fridge and place racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap 1 half of the dough. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/4" thickness. Alternatively, if you don't have a rolling pin, you can use a wine bottle or simply press downward and outward on the dough with your hands (I don't recommend the latter, it's difficult to get your dough to an even thickness using this method). Use cookie cutters to create shapes of your choosing and evenly space cookies on prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process with the other half of the dough.
Bake until cookies are firm and golden brown around edges, 16–18 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
While cookies are cooling, make the frosting. Sift powdered sugar into a medium bowl, add lemon juice, and mix. Continue to add lemon juice until frosting reaches your desired consistency. Next, add food coloring, if using. Fill a small sandwich bag with the frosting and cut off a small piece of the bag in one corner. Use this corner to pipe the frosting onto the cookies as desired. Allow the frosting to set for about 10 minutes before moving or eating cookies.
These cookies keep very well, just store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Source: Bon Appetit, December 2011