About a month ago when I went over to my mom’s for a chat, she served me some hot tea and lemon cookies.
Actually, there may have been other cookies artfully arranged on the cookie plate, but I only remember the lemon. They were crispy and buttery and delicious, but it was the powdered sugar that got my attention.
“How is this so lemony?” I asked, examining the white sugar for tell-tale signs of lemon zest, of which there were none.
And then she told me about her special little bottle of lemon crystals (which makes it sound like my mother has beaded doorway curtains, troughs of smoldering incense sticks scattered about the house, and horoscope readings magnetted to her fridge — but she doesn’t) and how they get mixed with the powdered sugar for a kick of lemon.
Back home, I looked into buying some for myself, but when I couldn’t find any at the grocery store (and didn’t feel like trekking all over town to track some down) and saw how pricey the stuff was on Amazon and how long it would take to get to our hosue, I shelved the idea. But then Mom said I could use some of her crystals, lucky me.
Confession Number One: I’m still a little cookied-out from Christmas. With no holiday parties and gatherings upon which to unburden myself of excess confectionary treat, we’re still slogging through the stash — just today I dug out a box of gingerbread men. I miss having an excuse to bake!
Confession Number Two: I’m sick of food. Our freezers are full, half my kids are gone, and I need almost nothing upon which to subsist so, more often than not, any cooking I do ends up feeling like overkill. It’s depressing and boring and will probably be a persistent problem for the next few years as I try to figure out how to downsize my culinary customs.
But! On the off chance you’re looking for a bright pop of buttery citrus to go with one of the many countless cups of herbal tea you’re using to self-soothe your way through this long, cold winter, here you go.
If ever February needed a cookie, it’s these.
From my mother’s recipe and she, in turn, got it from Who Knows Where.
10 tablespoons butter
½ cup white sugar
1 ¼ cup confectioners sugar, divided
1 ½ cups flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest from one lemon
1 egg yolk
¾ teaspoon lemon crystals
Beat the butter, white sugar, and ½ cup confectioners sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and lemon juice and zest. Add the dry ingredients — flour down through baking soda — and mix just until blended.
Shape the dough (there is no need to refrigerate it first) into small balls, 15 grams each. Place the dough balls on a prepared cookie sheet — my mother likes to butter hers for added flavor; I was lazy and lined mine with parchment. Gently press the cookies flat using the bottom of a floured measuring cup or drinking glass.
Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes — they ought to be golden brown around the edges, and maybe on top, too. The browning gives flavor and crunch. (Although completely done, mine weren’t quite brown enough.)
While the cookies are still warm, dip them in the remaining ¾ cup of confectioners sugar that’s been mixed with ¾ teaspoon of lemon crystals. Save the leftover sugar and, before serving the cookies, coat them once again.