Lemon Coolers


My husband and I stopped by Trader Joe's at the spur of the moment one day soon after moving to Seattle. We'd come from the university campus, where we'd had a light lunch at the history department's barbecue and then spent an hour or two soaking up the wonderful Internet joy at the library (after days without any in our new place). I was starving, having avoided most of the food at the barbecue, and why say no to a chance to pick up some Three-Buck Chuck along with a snack?

Wandering around, I grabbed whatever Trader Joe's specialty items I thought we might want in our still-barren kitchen, knowing it was unlikely I'd be coming back for at least a few weeks. Greek yogurt, check . . . maple granola, check . . . garbanzo beans . . . hmm, we could make hummus . . .

I sent Scott after a lemon to jazz up the potential hummus, and he returned with a whole bag. We left the store with a Mediterranean plate for snacking, three bottles of cheap wine, and way more food than I had intended to purchase, including now a whole mess of lemons.

I decided to find a cookie recipe for the extra citrus, as our kitchen was also in need of some dessert options. However, much like the still-unmade hummus, the cookies kept getting put off, and my choice of recipe changed as the next shopping day drew closer. So much for using what was already on hand.

All I really had to buy was cream cheese, though, to make Lemon Coolers, a recipe I had marked years ago in my King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. I could easily justify the additional purchase -- now I'd finally get to try that roasted-vegetable sandwich spread I saw on Good Eats with the leftover cheese. Cookies happen for a reason.

Incidentally, that sandwich spread is divine. Mmm.

I elected to take a hint from the King Arthur baking blog and use the plunger from my food processor to flatten the cookies in lieu of a drinking glass. They held the pretty circles pattern well after baking, and my fear that the sugary coating would obscure it turned out to be unfounded.


I skipped making the recipe's lemony sugar coating. In part, it was late and I didn't want to make more mess, but also I had zested all the lemons I could find just for the cookies themselves. I later turned up another lemon in the back of the crisper, but by then I'd dunked my cookies in plain confectioner's sugar.

If you make these cookies, though, I'd recommend buying more lemons than I did and giving the suggested coating a try. The lemon flavor in my cookies seemed muted at best, though it did gain in strength over the next couple of days. Still, I would have appreciated more lemon to balance out the sweetness and doughiness.

I'm not sure how else to describe the flavor. Floury, maybe? I would have said they weren't sweet enough except that I could taste plenty of confectioner's sugar. Maybe it's that they weren't rich enough. I did use full-fat cream cheese, though.

My cookies needed slightly longer than the stated 10 to 12 minutes to show any browning. Your mileage may vary.

The cookies were soft and delicate, as you might expect from a recipe incorporating confectioner's sugar into the dough itself. They stayed soft stored at room temperature for a few days. Be careful not to stack them crookedly, as they will bend over the edges and crack without support underneath.

I'd give these cookies three out of five stars. OK, but I probably wouldn't make them again.

My comments in [brackets].

lemon-coolers03.jpgLemon Coolers
Source: The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook

Yield: 2-1/2 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind (zest) [I followed the suggested substitution and used 1-1/2 tablespoons total lemon zest instead of lemon oil]
1/4 teaspoon lemon oil [see above note]
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners' sugar
2 cups (8-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

Coating: [I used just confectioner's sugar]
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioner's sugar
3/4 cup (5-1/4 ounces) granulated sugar, superfine preferred
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind (zest), or 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil

1. To make the dough: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, cream cheese, salt, baking powder, lemon zest, and lemon oil. When the mixture is creamy, add the sugars, a bit at a time, beating until fluffy. Finally, mix in the flour. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets. [They will try to stick, which is problematic with such delicate cookies.]

3. Scoop out about 2 level tablespoons of dough for each cookie (a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here) and roll each piece into a ball. [Um, you will not get 2-1/2 dozen cookies with 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie. I used one scoopful of dough for each cookie and they were plenty big.] Place balls on the prepared baking sheets and use the bottom of a drinking glass, dipped in confectioners sugar, to flatten them to a thickness of about 1/4 inch, and 1-3/4 to 2 inches in diameter. [Use a food-processor plunger for the circle design.]

4. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until they're lightly browned on the bottom and edges.

5. To make the coating: While the cookies are baking, make the coating. Combine the sugars in a food processor or blender and add the lemon zest. Process until well blended.

6. Allow the cookies to cool on sheets for about 5 minutes, then dip their tops into the coating. Place the cookies on a rack and let them cool completely. After they have cooled completely, shake more of the lemon sugar over them, or, if that's gone, cover them with confectioners' sugar; you want them to be well covered. [I actually didn't bother coating them a second time since my first coating didn't melt into the cookies the way it usually does.]


M♥LLY said...

Hi Colleen. Just checked out your blog, after seeing a link on facebook to your new website! Very neat! Keep it up - I plan to visit again. :)

Colleen said...

Thanks Molly! I've been keeping up with your blog, too, after you posted that link a while back. Hope the 80s-themed Halloween is totally rad.