Monday, December 19, 2011

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Christmas is almost here!  Prepare yourself for three great holiday treat recipes here on The Kitchen Holiday. Nothing makes me more happy than an afternoon in the kitchen listening to Christmas music (this album is my favorite this year) and baking up a bunch of cookies.  They're perfect for dessert during your holiday party and, wrapped up in festive packaging, they make great gifts.  In fact, once you bake these upcoming delicacies, you'll have a great cookie platter that anyone would be thrilled to receive. 

First up we have lemon sugar cookies.  Once I saw these, I knew they would be my favorite cookies of the season, and it's all because of the sanding sugar sprinkled on top.  This coarse colored sugar adds the perfect sparkle to your holiday treat.  I made these for a cookie swap and they were a big hit (or at least I'd like to think they were!)  Plus, the cookie swap was a great way to get a wide variety of cookies without spending days in the kitchen. 

To make the lemon sugar cookies, start with the dough.  It has to chill for at least an hour, so make it ahead of time.  

Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer.  This is easiest of the butter is room temperature, so take it out of the fridge a few hours in advance.  Add the lemon zest and vanilla and mix well (for the lemon zest, grate the rind of a lemon with the smallest holes on your grater, making sure you only grate the yellow part of the rind and not the white part, which is bitter).

Mix the butter mixture on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Add the egg yolks and beat until just combined.  

Slowly add the flour mixture, adding it in small batches and mixing until fully combined each time.  Towards the end you may need to use your hands to work it in.  Once combined, divide the dough into two sections.  Roll each into a 10" log (it helps to actually measure it, as Iearned that my estimating skills are horribly inaccurate).  

Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.  Once sufficiently chilled, remove from the fridge and place on a cutting board.  Using a sharp, floured knife, cut into 1/4" slices.  

Place on a greased cookie sheet about 1" apart.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until edges are set.  Don't let them get too brown - this way they will stay soft and moist. Remove from the pan immediately and let cool on a rack.

While they're cooling, mix together the icing.  In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and just enough milk to bring it to the right consistency (start small and add the milk in very small increments).  Transfer the icing into a pastry bag.  Since I don't have those, I used a Ziploc bag and cut a tiny hole in one of the corners.  

Drizzle the icing over the cookies. Sprinkle the sugar over the icing immediately, before the icing has time to set.  I worked in small batches, icing 3 rows of cookies at a time, then stopping to add sprinkles.  Let the icing set for 1-2 hours before storing in an airtight container. 

Enjoy the beauty of the cookies you just created!

Lemon Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Bon Appetit December 2011

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons (or more) milk
Sanding sugar (optional)

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer.  Add in the lemon zest and vanilla and combine, mixing for several minutes.   
3. Mix in the egg yolks until just combined.
4. Slowly add the flour mixture until well combined, using your hands if necessary.
5. Divide the dough into two halves.  Roll each half into a 10" log.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 
6. Remove dough for refrigerator.  Slice with a sharp, floured knife into 1/4" thick cookies. Place on greased cookie sheet.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are set.  
8. Remove from cookie sheet immediately and cool.
9. Make the icing - mix together the powdered sugar and enough milk to make the icing thick but able to be drizzled.  
10. Transfer the icing into a pastry bag (or Ziploc bag with a small whole cut in one corner). Drizzle over cookies, working in batches.  After each batch, sprinkle sugar or sprinkles over the icing immediately.  Let icing set for 1-2 hours.  Store in an airtight container. 


Kayla @ Home Coming said...

How did you cut them so perfectly? Mine would end up looking like french fries...

Rachel said...

Once you roll them in the log and chill them long enough, they pretty much just stay circle-shaped. And slicing them versus cutting them out with cookie cutters goes really quickly!

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