Lemon Butter Cookies
Adapted from Paris Sweets
Dorie gives 2 very important pieces of advice here that I followed to a tee. One, be genlt e when mixing the flour. “Tender cookies,” she advises, “depend on a tender touch, so you don’t want to rough up the flour and activate the gluten.” Two, she says, give your dough plenty of rest in the refrigerator. I gave mine a whole night to think things over and by the next day, it was a dream. Dorie tells us that by refrigerating the dough, we let the gluten relax, which also helps the cookies to hold their shape during slicing and baking. I also shaped my dough into a squarish log – as I wanted cute square cookies. The stayed squarish all right. I have one important piece of advice: get good butter. As good as you can afford, because given that this is a butter cookie, the butter plays a key role in how crumbly, lush and decadent your cookie will turn out. Plugra or Kerrygold butter (what I used) work beautifully here, as will any cultured butter, which contains a higher percentage of butterfat than regular butter.
2 sticks (8 oz; 230 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅔ cup ( 2 ½ oz; 70 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature, separated
pinch of salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
grated zest of 1-2 lemons (to taste)
2 cups (9 ⅞ oz; 280 grams) all-purpose flour
Approximately ½ cup (3 ½ oz; 100 grams) sugar, for coating
Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat at medium speed until it is smooth and satiny. Add the sifte confectioners’ sugar and beat again, starting on the lowest speed, gradually increasing, until the mixture is smooth and silky. Beat in 1 of the egg yolks, followed by salt, vanilla, and zest.
Turn the mixer speed off and add the flour. Turn the mixer on the lowest setting and mix until the flour just disappears. It’s crucial here not to overbeat. So, if you see that the flour isn’t fully incorporated, that’s okay – just blend in whatever remaining flour there is using a rubber spatula.
Tear 2 pieces of plastic wrap enough to wrap the dough that will be deivded in half. Spoon half the dough onto one piece, and the other half onto the other piece. By lifting sides of the plastic wrap and placing them over the dough, shape each mound into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Working on a smooth surface, still using that same piece of plastic wrap, to keep your dough in place, form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 to 1 ¼ inches thick. Dorie tells us here that if you get the thickness right, you will end up with the proper log length. Then you use the piece of plastic to wrap the dough back up and give it at least a 2 hour rest. I gave it an overnight rest because I thought it could use some lounging time. In retrospect, that was the best decision I could’ve made.
Position the racks in the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 Celsius). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. [If you happen to be on a mad cookie baking project, remember this – you can reuse your parchment paper, which is both much simpler logistically, and creates less waste!]
While oven preheats, work on the sugar coating, by whisking the other egg yolk in a small bowl until it is smooth enough to be used as glaze. Spread the sugar out on a piece of wax paper. Remove he logs of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap them and while they’re lying in the plastic wrap, brush them lightly with a little egg yolk. You want a thin coating so that the sugar sticks.
Roll the logs in the sugar, making sure to coat all sides. Then, using a sharp, thin knife, slice each log int o cookies about ¼ inch thick. Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets, leaving about ½ inch space between them.
Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes, rotating midway, or until they are set but not browned, though it’s fine if the yolk/sugar edges brown a tiny bit. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes, before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack to cool to room temperature.
Packed air-tight, the cookies will keep for 5 days at room temperature, but good luck keeping them that long.
Makes about 50 cookies.