High on sugar cookies from my last baking endeavor, and surrounded by spring, spring everywhere, I wanted to make more sugar cookies, but I wanted to do something exciting…and fresh.
I love lemons almost as much as I love cheese or orange juice. Lemonade brings back childhood memories of cul-de-sac parties and dangerous neighborhood fireworks displays on July 4th. It also brings back memories of a failed lemon meringue pie that tasted like feet.
Lemons are an all-year-round fruit but lemon things are best in the summer. I made these cookies for the first time a few years ago, my last year in college, during my last semester. I only made them once but they were unbelievable the first time. The original recipe called for lemon frosting, an orgasmic addition to an already orgasmic cookie, but I wanted to make them my own this time…and I just didn’t have the energy to make any frosting. I played with the recipe a few times (approximately five times), and once I had settled on something…a few more times (approximately a hundred more times.) I don’t remember them being this addictive three years ago.
Unlike the previous recipe (basic sugar cookies), these are simple and forgiving. The dough doesn’t have a lot of flour and it’s very light. You don’t have to fight to make it cooperate, and because you roll and bake (rather than rolling, cutting, and baking), you can use up all the dough immediately (or save some for a midnight snack.) But be careful you don’t go crazy with the lemon. They are pretty intense cookies, and I love all the lemon, but one batch collapsed before I added the flour because I was little…overzealous…with the lemon juice.
And if you intend to share them with friends, make two batches: one for you, one for everyone else to deal with. Or hide the first batch from yourself, because they’re seriously addictive like the cheese and olives at my grandma’s house. Make sure, though, that you can find them again when it’s time to share.
There’s something special about lemon, I discovered while making these cookies. It tingles all over your mouth but especially along the sides and the back, making you salivate. It’s addictive. I tried making these without the sugar coating and, while they’re still amazing and addictive, the extra sugar on top makes the difference. It’s a clean, refreshing contrast to the texture of the cookie, and adds a sweet balance to the tart lemon. It’s like salt on the rim of a margarita glass, a precursor to something sensational.
lemon sugar cookies
makes 30 ~ 36 cookies
226 g unsalted butter, softened
240 g granulated sugar, plus a few tablespoons for coating
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 T lemon zest (zest of 1 lemon)
480 g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
milk and lemon juice, if needed
If using a conventional oven, preheat to 350 F/175 C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 1-3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until consistent and fully mixed in, 2-3 minutes.
Add the lemon zest a little at a time (~4 additions) and beat.
In a separate smaller bowl, combine salt, flour and baking powder.
Beat the flour mixture into the batter slowly, at least 8 additions and combining fully each time. The dough should be light and fluffy, almost like frosting, but not stick to your hands too much. If it’s too stiff or dry, add a little bit of milk or lemon juice until it’s a good consistency.
Fill a small, shallow bowl with the extra granulated sugar, and another with some flour (a few tablespoons.) Using a spoon or small cookie scoop, scoop the dough and roll between your hands so it forms a ball. Flour your hands if you need to. Then, roll the dough balls in the sugar. Place on the baking sheet a few centimeters apart, and bake for 10 minutes, until they’re dry on top. Don’t let them brown too much except on the bottom, or they’ll burn. They’re best taken out a little early, and they’ll firm up as they cool.
If using a toaster oven, toast at 740 W for the same length of time.
Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and finish cooling, and prepare yourself for Heaven.
Lemon Love Y’all