If you like lemon, you will LOVE these cookies.
Taking a bite into these cookies and you truly get a “burst” of lemon. The lemon cookie dough consists of lemon zest, and lemon juice. If you wanted to spice things up a bit, you could also substitute limoncello (this is what I did) for the lemon juice in the recipe. Mmmm…
The cookies, not surprisingly, have a soft and cake texture. The lemon royal icing provides a perfect balance to the tartness of the lemon. I think they would be a wonderful addition to a brunch spread, great for a wedding or baby shower, and a great complement to afternoon tea.
Limoncello Cut Out Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 tsp. limoncello or fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp. grated lemon zest
2/3 cup light brown sugar (light preferred but dark will do)
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
In your large mixing bowl or the work bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter with the limoncello or fresh lemon juice. When it is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes) add in both sugars and the egg beat for another 3 minutes.
In a small bowl mix together the flour, cream of tartar and the salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix for about 3 minutes to combine thoroughly.
Divide the dough into two roughly equal portions, flatten into discs about 1 inch thick and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Before rolling out the cookies set a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 350 degrees.
Flour your work surface and bring out one of the dough disks. I have you divide this so that the dough stays cool while you are working with it. If it starts to get sticky at any point, return it to the ‘fridge and work with the other disk.
Using your rolling-pin, gently roll back and forth over the dough. When you have a long oval, turn it 90 degrees and roll away from yourself so you have a roughly square dough about 1/4 inch in height.
Tip: Don’t roll these cookies too thin. They will get too crisp if you do.
Cut into desired shapes. Knead the scraps back together and roll out again until you’ve used up all the dough.
Place them about 1” apart on the sheet pan. When you have a full sheet pan slip them into the hot oven and bake for 8 – 10 minutes. They should just have a thin slightly darker brown rim around them when they are done.
Remove them from the oven and place the whole sheet pan on the cooling rack. Allow the cookies to sit on the hot sheet pan for another 2 minutes to finish cooking all the way through. Remove them from the sheet pan with a spatula and allow to cool completely on the rack before icing.
Lemon Royal Icing
4 tbsp. meringue powder (found at any craft/baking store)
1/2 cup water
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. light corn syrup
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy.
Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine.
Add in the corn syrup and lemon juice
Increase speed to med-high and beat for about 5-10 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. (You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) Do not over beat.
Remove icing and divide into separate, covered container. The number of containers will be based on how many colors you are using. Keep the icing covered at all times when you are not working with it, as it dries out quickly.
Dilute icing with water so it is a pipe able consistency, but be careful and only add a tiny bit of water at a time because it dilutes rather easily. Add coloring when the icing is at the right consistency for piping and place it in a piping bag fit with a small, round tip. I used a #2 tip for piping these cookies. Pipe thin, smooth outlines on each of the cookie and set aside.
Once all of the outlines are piped, add the icing back to its appropriate container and dilute it to a “flooding” consistency. Just make it thin enough that it is easy enough to spread within your outline.
Repeat steps with each cookie and let them harden overnight before placing them in an airtight container.