Kitchen Q&A: Glazed Lemon Cookies

A reader question came up regarding the recipe for Glazed Lemon Cookies.

“Can you make the cookies without a food processor?”

YES!!! And I do apologize that I neglect to add alternate directions for some of the recipes. It wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t have a food processor myself and I felt slightly irritated that every single recipe I wanted to make (or so it seemed) required a food processor.

If you’ll remember the recipe, it relies heavily on the use of a food processor. I made these cookies very successfully with the use of my bare hands, a pastry blender, and a hand mixer. You can, too!

I’ve included the recipe below with my alterations in red. There are directions to make the cookies with a hand or standing mixer and by hand without the use of a mixer.

Glazed Lemon Cookies
From Cooks’ Illustrated
MAKES ABOUT 30

Ingredients:

For Lemon Cookies:
¾ cup (5 1/4 oz.) granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. grated zest plus 2 Tbsp. juice from two lemons
1 ¾ cups (8 1/4 oz.) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
12 Tbsp. ( 1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes
1 lg. egg yolk
½ tsp. vanilla extract

For Lemon Glaze:
1 Tbsp. softened cream cheese
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 ½ cups (6 oz.) powdered sugar

Instructions:

For the cookies: 

1.  Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions; heat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of food processor, process granulated sugar and zest until it looks damp and zest is thoroughly incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add flour, salt, and baking powder; pulse to combine, about 10 one-second pulses.

Scatter butter chunks over. Pulse until mixture resembles fine cornmeal, about 15 one-second pulses.In a measuring cup or small bowl, beat lemon juice, yolk, and vanilla until combined.With machine running, add juice/yolk mixture in slow, steady stream (process should take about 10 seconds); continue processing until dough begins to form ball, 10 to 15 seconds longer.

Alternate Method #1: By Hand

Place the granulated sugar and zest in a large bowl. Rub the sugar and zest between your fingers until it becomes wet and sandy. Stir in the dry ingredients with a whisk. Scatter the pieces of cold butter over the dry ingredients. Use a pastry blender (or two knives held parallel to each other) to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. The mixture will resemble cornmeal.

Make a well in the center of the mixture. Stir the lemon juice, egg yolk, and vanilla together in a small bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients into the well. Stir together with a fork.

Alternate Method #2: Stand or Hand Mixer

Use softened butter.

Rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers until wet and sandy. Cream softened butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and lemon juice. Beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients in several additions, mixing well after each addition. The dough will be crumbly.

For both alternate methods, continue with recipe as written…

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

4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove dough log from wrapping and, using a sharp chef’s knife, slice dough into rounds 3/8-inch thick. Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart.

5. Bake until centers of cookies just begin to color and edges are golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking time.
Cool cookies on baking sheet about 5 minutes, using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature before glazing.

For Lemon Glaze:

1. Whisk cream cheese and lemon juice in a medium nonreactive bowl until no lumps remain. Add powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.

2. When cookies have cooled, working one at a time, spoon scant teaspoon glaze onto each cookie and spread evenly with the back of spoon. (I sometimes put the glaze in a zipper lock plastic bag, snip off the end, and drizzle or dollop the glaze on top of the cooled cookies.)

Let cookies stand on a wire rack until glaze is set and dry, about 1 hour.

Variations:

Glazed Lemon-Orange Cornmeal Cookies–
Follow recipe for Glazed Lemon Cookies, substituting 1 Tbsp. grated orange zest for an equal amount of lemon zest and 1/4 cup cornmeal for an equal amount of flour.

Glazed Lemon and Crystallized Ginger Cookes–
Follow recipe for Glazed Lemon Cookies, processing 3 Tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger along with sugar and lemon zest.

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6 Comments

  1. Ooooo…I have been craving a lemon recipe recently and this is perfect!! I think I’ll make them this weekend. Thanks! Have any tasty lemon cake recipes up your sleeve?

  2. i made these and loved them! i used them for a bridal shower and colored the frosting watermelon and lime (her colors) – they were a hit. i was just wondering if you can dry lemon zest? i zested 5 pounds of lemons and am wondering the proper way to do this, i figure you know everything……really.

  3. Heidi–

    I thought a lot about your question. I am going to do some looking around, but initially I want to say that you may have better luck freezing the zest instead of drying it. But, if you do want to dry it, I would suggest using a vegetable peeler to peel off just the colored part of the peel and maybe place it in a paper bag (?). I know that is the method for drying fresh whole herbs. Let me see what I can find. What a great idea–I know you can buy dried zest, so why not make your own? Great question, thank you!

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