glazed lemon cookies

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Earlier in the summer, I got it in my head that I could bake all I wanted as long as I just sent the treats away. Brilliant! All the swirling butter and sugar in the mixer without any of the calories! I don’t have a PhD for nothing, people.

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So I put out a note on Facebook – essentially “Hey! Who wants treats!” – got a whole bunch of responses, and spent the next day baking.

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The weakness in my strategy was that it’s almost never the actual baked dessert that I overeat. It’s the dough, always the dough.

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Plus, I know everyone jokes about “Oh, I have to eat one, right? Just to make sure they’re good? <wink wink>.” The thing is, you do have to eat one to make sure they’re good! What if you forgot the salt and doubled the baking powder or, I don’t know, some other easily overlooked lame-brained maneuver? And you send out eight packages, all over the country, to friends and family you haven’t seen in ages, all filled with lackluster messed up “treats”?

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Anyway, so after spending all day shopping, baking, packaging, eating lots of dough and (at least) one of each treat, I decided I should make myself go for a run.

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Uh, it wasn’t the best run ever. It was one of those runs where puking doesn’t seem too far off. Weird that sugar and butter aren’t very good fuel for exercise. Bummer.

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So I’ve mostly given up on the “I’ll just send everything away!” idea. Which is a shame, because now it’s going to be that much harder to find a reason to make these perfect lemon cookies. Sweet but tangy, super soft and tender, topped with a flavorful powdered sugar glaze that dries on top and snaps just a bit when you bite through it, these are cookies that I can’t resist in dough or baked form.

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One year ago: Wheatmeal Shortbread Cookies

Printer Friendly Recipe
Glazed Lemon Cookies (from Cooks Illustrated)

¾ cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated zest plus 2 tablespoons juice from 2 lemons
1¾ cup (8.75 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
1½ cups (6 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

1. For the cookies: In a food processor, process the granulated sugar and lemon zest until the sugar looks damp and the zest is thoroughly incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt; pulse to combine, about ten 1-second pulses. Scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients; pulse until the mixture resembles fine cornmeal, about fifteen 1-second pulses. In a measuring cup or small bowl, beat together the lemon juice, egg yolk, and vanilla with a fork to combine. With the machine running, add the juice mixture in a slow, steady stream (the process should take about 10 seconds); continue processing until the dough begins to form a ball, 10 to 15 seconds longer.

2. Turn the dough and any dry bits onto a clean work surface; working quickly, gently knead to ensure that no dry bits remain and the dough is homogeneous. Roll the dough into a cylinder approximately 10 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Center the dough on a piece of parchment. Fold the paper over the dough. Grasp one end of the parchment. With the other hand, use a bench scraper to firmly press the parchment against the dough to form a uniform cylinder. Roll the parchment and twist the ends together to form a tight seal. Chill the dough until firm and cold, about 45 minutes in the freezer or 2 hours in the refrigerator. (The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.)

3. Meanwhile, adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions; heat the oven to 375 degrees.

4. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray. Remove the dough log from its wrapper and, using a sharp chef’s knife, slice the dough into rounds 3/8 inch thick; place the rounds on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake until the centers of the cookies just begin to color and the edges are golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 5 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before glazing.

5. For the glaze: Whisk the cream cheese and lemon juice in a medium nonreactive bowl until no lumps remain. Add the confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth.

6. To glaze the cookies: When the cookies have cooled, spoon a scant teaspoon of glaze onto each cookie and spread evenly with the back of the spoon. Let the cookies stand on a wire rack until the glaze is set and dry, about 1 hour. The cookies are best eaten the day they are glazed.

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  1. These look wonderful, I love lemon cookies!!

  2. Sara L says:

    These sound yummy. I think you should make these again because my package didn’t include lemon cookies. That’s a good enough excuse, right?

  3. oh these look good!! lemon baked goods continue to grow on me!

  4. I will save the recipe and bake it at Christmas for my father who loves this kind of recipes! Thanks !

  5. The lemon cookies were the best ones.

    The trick is to blame any messed up treats on the mail. “Oh sorry, those didn’t ship well.” I’m not sure what use this trick is since you’re still going to save some cookies for yourself.

  6. You are so entertaining! I very often have those afternoons where I eat nearly half the dough while making chocolate chip cookies, and then trying to go for a run or bike ride. It never works out very well.
    Beautiful cookies! And you were very sweet to do all that shopping and baking, just to send the treats away.

  7. Mmmmmm they sound great! I love lemon and to make a whole cookie devoted to it….I’m sure it was delicious:) I had to laugh when you wrote about how sugar and butter are not good fuel for running. I don’t know if you watch The Office but it reminded me of the time Michael wanted “carb up” before a big run and ate a whole plate of fettuccine alfredo….not good for running either!

  8. You’re killing me here. I’m trying to work through all my CSA veggies, yet you keep posting recipes that make me want to walk straight into the kitchen and start baking, or worse, go to the grocery store and buy more ingredients with which to bake. I need beet recipes, not delicious, beautiful cookies! Wah!

  9. Ah yes, taste testing gets me every time. That’s when I realized that I had to just refuse to taste test, which is worth it when your CWs give very good feedback 🙂

  10. This is such a beautiful cookie. Looks delicious.

  11. Haha… I do the same thing! I can stay away from the final baked goods, and everyone thinks I have willpower of steel–they just don’t know I’ve probably eaten three cookies in dough and broken pieces coming out of the oven!

    These ones definitely look incredible… I want to try them!

  12. jennifer says:

    those look wonderful! i’d love to try them.
    do you have any tips for mailing cookies? I’ve wanted to mail some several times but was always worried they wouldn’t make it.

  13. bridget says:

    jennifer – I’m not an expert, but what I’ve found works best for me is to use those disposable ziploc plastic containers. I line them with wax paper and fill them loosely with more delicate treats, like pound cake, brownies, and these cookies. For more sturdy desserts, like chewy cookies, treat bags seem to work. I put those bags and containers in a shipping box with some other sort of packing material between them, either styrofoam peanuts or crumpled paper. So far, so good, as far as I know!

  14. I only have a small food processor – could I cut the butter into the mixture by hand and then transfer everything to a stand mixer to form the dough? If not, what would you suggest?

  15. bridget says:

    Erin R – That should work. Just keep in mind that you want the butter + dry ingredients mixture to more finely incorporated than they would be for something like biscuits or pie crust.