July 18, 2012

Lemon Slices

Every so often, even the most adventurous cook will come across a recipe that even they don't think is worth it. It's generally a recipe that they made once and was so tempermental and fussy that they don't ever plan on making it again. For me, these cookies were one of those recipes. I got a bit manic after my grandmother died and was up baking cookies past midnight the day before the wake. I had lemons, so lemon cookies were one of the things that I made.

These were a make-ahead slice and bake recipe, so I whipped up the dough and managed to get a few hours of sleep before putting the first batch in the oven, and I took out something that couldn't be seen in all three dimensions. They spread like crazy. I had to pull out every trick in the book (and quite a few cookie-baking no-no's) to get cookies that weren't see through.

Once I managed to get something that actually resembled a cookie, they were actually pretty good. I'm a fan of citrus, and these had a nice strong lemon flavor. They weren't very sweet, so I mixed up a lemon glaze, and that put them over the top into awesome lemon cookie territory. Still, they were quite the pain in the derriere, so I figured that would be the first and last time I ever made them.

Sorry for the picture quality. I was running out the door.
Except that these cookies ended up being a huge hit, and my Aunt Ida, my grandmother's sister who just happens to be one of the best old broads you ever did meet, specifically asked that I make them for the family barbecue. So I did what I could to tweak the recipe, decreased the baking temperature, used rimmed baking sheets, and baked them on the lower rack of the oven. They still spread pretty thin, but at least they didn't disappear when you look at them from the side.

And knowing the way that food disappears in my family, I made sure to set aside a plate just for Aunt Ida, which she guarded ferociously from all passers-by. My dad says I'm most definitely in the will, now.

Lemon Slices {Printable Version}
Yield: Approx. 5 dozen cookies

For the cookies:
2¼ cups flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup powdered sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup solid white vegetable shortening (Crisco)
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. vanilla

For the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp. lemon juice

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, shortening, sugars, and lemon zest together until fluffy. Add the lemon juice and vanilla and mix well. Beat in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into logs about 6 inches long and wrap them in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Working with one log at a time, cut slices about ¼ inch thick, and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake on the lower rack for 12-13 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheets a few minutes before transferring to wire racks.

For the glaze: Mix together the powdered sugar with the lemon juice and just enough milk to achieve a good spreadable consistency. Spread onto the cooled cookies and let dry before serving.

Tip: Make sure the dough you’re working with is chilled and firm. If one log gets too warm, put it back in the refrigerator and work from the second one. I alternate between the two for each batch. Also, the baking sheets have to be completely cooled before using. For added insurance, chill each batch in the refrigerator on the baking sheets as the batch before it is baking.