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Lemon Almond Cookies

March 8, 2011

We’ve got some very busy weeks ahead, so I’m enjoying my last few quiet afternoons with a cup of tea. Last Sunday, I went all the way with the lazy-afternoon business and spent most of it baking cookies.

I made a couple of discoveries. One was that my electric hand mixer is useless for making cookies. You see, it only has one speed: insanely fast. So after I tried to cream the butter and sugar together, I had to clean up the sugar crystals that had landed in the sink, the bowl of apples, and my hair before resuming the recipe.

The other, more useful discovery is that decades of recipes from now-defunct Gourmet magazine are available on They share a parent company, so no surprises there, but it’s always nice to have a new source for mining recipes.

I dug this particular one up from 1990. It’s a nice, simple tea cookie with a delicate balance of almond and lemon flavors – perfect with a cup of Earl Grey on a spring afternoon.

Since the cookies were a little plain-looking, I made a lemon icing for them. I’ll confess, though, that I like them a little better without it. Then again, I like things on the less-sweet side. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, go for it.

The usual suspects. Cream together some butter and sugar.

Beat an egg into the creamy goodness.

Add a whole lot of lemon zest.

This is my new favorite baking ingredient: ground almonds. I’m not sure why I never stumbled on this before, but it adds a lovely mellow nuttiness.

And finally flour, added a little at a time. (Thank goodness I didn’t try using the hand-mixer at this stage.)

Roll the dough into a ball and refrigerate for a few hours. It’ll be kind of sticky.

This dough is a bit too sticky to roll and cut, so you have a few options. You can roll it into balls and press it down with the sugared bottom of a glass. You can use a cookie press for extra fanciness. Or, like me, you can just form it into discs with your hands – about 2 inches wide and ¼ inch thick.

Bake until the edges are lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Remove to racks to cool. I made some lemon icing to go on top and made some designs with the poor-man’s piping bag: a ziploc bag with a tiny bit of the corner cut out.

Lemon Almond Cookies

From Gourmet, via Epicurious

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1½ Tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
6 Tablespoons finely ground almonds
1½ cups all-purpose flour

1. In a large bowl or an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
2. Add other ingredients one at a time and stir to combine. Add flour a little at a time.
3. Cover dough and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F.
5. Form dough into ping-pong-sized balls and flatten between your palms (or use a cookie press). Set on a prepared baking sheet a couple of inches apart.
6. Bake until the edges start to brown, 8-10 minutes.
7. Let cool for a few minutes on sheet and remove to racks to cool. Ice them if you like.

Lemon Icing

Makes a few cups, more than enough for the recipe above.

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 Tablespoons milk or cream
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

1. Whisk together butter and milk/cream and about ½ cup of the powdered sugar.
2. Whisk in lemon juice.
3. Add more powdered sugar, a little at a time until icing reaches desired consistency.
4. Ice the cookies once they have cooled. After icing, let them sit out for 10 minutes. The icing will harden, making it easier to transport.

And, because I couldn’t resist, I replicated a few of these:

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