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I have cookies on the brain. My Google reader is full of recipies for cookies, Family Circle and Everyday Food have cookies on their covers, I saved the Boston Globe magazine last Sunday because they had a bunch of cookie recipes from local bakeries. So really, it’s no wonder that when I sat down to decide what my next baking adventure would be, I fell immediately upon cookies.
I’m not quite ready for full-on Christmas cookies, though. I have big cookie-giving plans this year, but it’s too early to start the bake-a-thon just yet. I was initially thinking of spice cookies, since I pilfered a sleeve of gingersnaps from my parents’ house at Thanksgiving, and James and I were both really digging the spicy, not-too-sweet goodness. But I wanted chewy spicy cookies. Chewy, moist, tender, warm and molassesy, coated in a sugary crust… but then, I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes for buttery sugar cookies, and something about the idea of the sweet, simple taste of sugar cookies had me hooked.
James told me that his mother always added lemon zest to her sugar cookies, so I searched for a lemony sugar cookie that would stay chewy after they cooled. And of course, Martha has just the thing.
These are wonderful, wonderful sugar cookies. They have a lovely light lemon flavor, they’re chewy and tender, and that crust of sugar sends them over the top. James said they are “how sugar cookies are supposed to taste” and that they’re the best cookies he’s ever had. I will definitely be adding these to my cookie repertoire.
A couple of notes: the recipe says to use a 2-inch cookie scoop, which I don’t own, so I just made balls with about a 2-inch diameter. The cookies spread like mad and even though I had them the allotted 2 inches apart, they ran into each other and were pretty flat, nothing at all like the picture Martha has on her website. (But they were still amazingly delicious!) For the last bit of dough, I made 1-inch balls and popped them in the fridge on the cookie sheet for about 15 minutes before going on to the sugar step. Those cookies ended up spreading a lot less and looked more like Martha’s cookies. I also think the trick to the chewiness is pulling the cookies out of the oven before they’re all the way cooked.
Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
From Martha Stewart
Makes about 20 (3 1/2-inch) cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks), softened
2 large eggs
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling (I used a mix of sparkle sugar and regular granulated, but all granulated would be fine)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl; set aside.
Put sugars and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed 30 seconds. Add butter; mix until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, and then the lemon juice. Reduce speed; gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
Scoop dough using a 2-inch ice cream scoop; space cookies 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Flatten cookies slightly with a spatula. Sprinkle tops with sanding sugar, then lightly brush with a wet pastry brush; sprinkle with more sanding sugar.
Bake cookies until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks using a spatula; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.