Fresh Lemon Cookies
I had a craving for cookies. I don’t keep them in the house because I have no self-control when it comes to sweets, but I couldn’t get them off my mind.
I usually walk right by the cookie aisle at the grocery store, but on my last shopping trip, I could hear a package of Oreos calling my name. My jaw literally dropped open when I saw the price. It had been awhile since my last purchase.
The cookies cost around $3.50 and that was on sale. Also, the package was two-thirds the size I remembered. Shoot! I thought, I can bake up a big batch for a whole lot less.
It must be the British in me. I just couldn’t pay that price. It wasn’t the $3.50, it was the value. That package of cookies wasn’t a “good deal.” Plus I rationalized; my home-made cookies wouldn’t be full of preservatives and chemicals.
And better yet, my lemons were ripe. The fruit had set last spring and ripened over the winter. Last May, I’d put dad’s lemon tree (for the story of the tree’s trip home from Florida, see my post Dad’s Lemon Tree) on the deck, in a sunny spot and left it there as late into the fall as I could.
The lemon tree winters over in my office – the sunniest room in the house – and the fruit had even survived my curious granddaughter. I went upstairs and picked the largest one, saving the other for lemon bread another time.
Back in the kitchen, I got the makings for the lemon cookies around. The recipe I was going to use was one of my mom’s. It makes two dozen, so I doubled the ingredients. I planned on sending a plateful of cookies to my neighbor as a thank-you for her sending me over a plate filled with Easter dinner. I was also going to take some to Book Club. That would leave a few, but not too many, for me.
I set up my mixer and dug out a bowl and spatula. My handy zester was buried in the utensil drawer. I scraped it over the skin of the lemon until I had a golden curly pile. Then I rolled the lemon on the counter to release all the juices. I quartered the fruit and squeezed the juice into a bowl. After scooping out the seeds, I measured two tablespoonsful.
I sifted the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt together then in a second bowl, creamed the butter, sugar, lemon juice, zest and vanilla. I stirred the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture and folded in the raisins.
With lightly greased my hands, I rolled the dough into ping pong ball sized balls and placed them on the ungreased cookie sheets.
The cookies smelled delicious baking and I waited impatiently for the first batch to be done. Once they were, I lifted them off the cookie sheets and set them on paper towels to cool.
I broke one – oh darn! – so I took a bite. Delicious, lemony sweetness flooded my mouth. I ate a second cookie and it was as good as the first. I let the rest cool, frosted them and divided them up between my neighbor, the book club and me.
Here is my mom’s amazing Lemon Cookie recipe (doubled):
2 1/3 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (bottled juice can be used in a pinch)
4 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
1 cup dark raisins
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ tablespoon lemon juice
A little milk
Directions: Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Slowly add flour mixture, beating until just mixed in. Fold in the raisins with a wooden mixing spoon. Make small dough balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets about two inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Let cool on the cookie sheets for a couple minutes then transfer to paper towels to cool completely. Drizzle icing on top and sprinkle with a little lemon zest if desired. Icing: Stir lemon juice into confectioners’ sugar. Add just enough milk to bring to a drizzling consistency.