Friday, October 28, 2011

Lemon Cutout Cookies

My adorable nephew recently celebrated his 3rd birthday! In honor of the occasion (and every future birthday), I vowed to make cookies in the shape of his age. This tradition will God-willing continue in the years to come, with different flavors at each celebration. Earlier this year we made cookies together for the first time, and this was partly the inspiration for the annual birthday cookies. These lemon cookies have a faint citrus burst without being overwhelmingly lemony.

I omitted the icing because quite frankly, I just didn't have time to decorate the cookies and allow the icing to set before the party. I had made the dough the weekend before when I was in RI and froze it, then had my mom thaw it out the night before the party and I drove from NYC to RI (left by 6:30 am on a SATURDAY thank you very much) so I could roll out, cut and bake them in time for the party (among a million other things I had to do, which apparently included a nap, sorry these things happen). For the record, I was barely conscious when I cut and baked the cookies, so even zombies and sleep-bakers can make them!

Anyway, I can't comment on the icing portion of the recipe, although I can assure you that it will add a more citrus element to the cookies. These babies were super popular at the party. People took them in threes (pun intended) instead of singles. They had a nice crunch and a fresh flavor. My brother-in-law said they reminded him of the cookies his grandmother would make... quite an emotional statement since she passed away recently :( Make these cookies. They are good. And easy. Easy is good.

Lemon Cutout Cookies
Makes 4 to 5 dozen
(Adapted from New Treasury of Christmas Recipes)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Lemon icing, optional

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg. Gradually add the dry mixture, alternating with lemon juice, until combined (dough will be soft). Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and flatten the dough into a disc about 1/2-inch to 1-inch in thickness (this will make it easier to roll out later). Wrap the dough well with the plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1/3 of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with floured cookie cutters. Place 1-inch apart on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to turn golden. Cool thoroughly on wire racks. Ice and decorate as desired.

Lemon Icing:
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 T. fresh lemon juice
Yellow food coloring, optional

Mix together the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and food coloring (if desired) until smooth.

Makes about 1/2 cup


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