These distinctively flavored rolled sugar cookies can be decorated with sanding sugar before baking, or with a simple buttercream or royal icing after baking. Either embellishment adds just the right amount of sweetness.
Many moons ago, I was tasked with coming up with a casual but memorable dessert for an early summer get-together for as group of avid foodies, mostly culinary instructors,food journalists, and their spouses.
I couldn’t think of a thing and was running out of time. As I was driving along a country road the morning of the event, I happened upon a roadside stand selling over-sized, plump, and juicy crimson-blushed Queen Anne cherries. They were stunning and I bought several baskets.
Then I flew home and grabbed Chez Panisse Café Cookbook and flipped through it until I spied the Lemon Clove Cookies. The combination of lemon with cloves was new to me, but I intuited that those flavors would be perfect with the cherries.
So that’s what I served: Freshly Baked Lemon Clove Butter Cookies with Cascade Foothills Queen Anne Cherries. Not one person said, “What, no six-layer torte? No Chocolate Souffle with Cocoa Nibs and Burnt Sugar Sauce?” I think the simplicity and honest goodness stunned them into silence. I thought the combination was spectacular.
Since then I have put this combination of flavors to good use in numerous desserts, from souffles, to pies, to cakes, to cookies. Here they lift a simple sugar cookie to sophisticated heights. These are not the flavors one expects from a holiday sugar cookie. I love the look of surprise on people’s faces and then their smiles as they savor this cookie. They always ask for the recipe.
Lemon-Lime Clove Sugar Cookies
These distinctively flavored cookies can be decorated with sanding sugar or sprinkles before baking, or with a simple buttercream or royal icing after baking. Either embellishment adds just the right amount of sweetness. However, these cookies are also delicious unadorned with afternoon tea.
This recipe makes a Christmas-size (large) batch of cookies. It can be cut in half if you like.
Baking Note For best results, cookies should be COLD when they go into the oven. Otherwise, they may spread too much. Always give cookies plenty of space to spread regardless, at least an inch between cookies. Baking times are APPROXIMATE. Correct baking times are critical to the success of your cookies. Test your oven and pan setup with a few cookies to start with and watch the timing closely. Dark pans bake faster than light pans or air-sandwiched pans. Silicon mat-lined pans bake faster than parchment-lined pans. Cookies that are rolled to 1/8-inch thick bake faster than cookies rolled to ¼-inch thick. And your oven may be running hot or cold. There are so many variables. Do test a couple of cookies first. It may save an entire batch later.
5 cups King Arthur’s unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups unsalted butter, cool room temperature (15 minutes out of the refrigerator)
2 cups superfine sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon oil (or 1 teaspoon extract)
½ teaspoon orange oil (or 1 teaspoon extract)
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
finely grated zest of 1 large lime 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, at cool room temperature
sanding sugar or sprinkles
Royal Icing or Buttercream Icing
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cloves, and salt. Whisk thoroughly to distribute the baking powder. Reserve.
- Using a stand mixer, such as a Kitchen Aid Artisan 5-qt. Stand Mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon oil, lime oil, lemon zest, and lime zest until light and creamy, about 3 minutes,.
- Add the eggs, a little at a time, and continue beating until very light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl several times, about 3 minutes.
- Add the flour mixture and mix very briefly in short bursts, just until incorporated
- Divide the dough into 5 equal portions and flatten each portion to a ½-inch thick disk on a sheet of plastic wrap. Seal the plastic wrap around each portion of the dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. (The sealed dough can be refrigerated for 2-3 days if necessary.)
- On a lightly floured pastry cloth, using a covered rolling pin, roll out the dough to 3/16- to ¼-inch thickness. Use a little flour to keep the dough from sticking if necessary, but try not to work too much additional flour into the dough.
- Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and place cookies on a lightly greased baking sheet. If desired, sprinkle with sanding sugar or sprinkles.
- Bake at 375° for 7-10 minutes, until edges are just beginning to lightly brown.
- Using a thin, flexible offset spatula, remove cookies from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.
- After cooling, cookies can be decorated with icing if desired
- Store cookies, layered with rounds of wax paper, in airtight metal cookie containers. (These cookies keep well for weeks in a cool, dry place; they may also be frozen.)
- Makes about 8 dozen small to medium cookies.
Makes about 8 dozen small to medium cookies.
This versatile cookie icing can be thinned with water (1 teaspoon at a time; a little usually does it) to any desirable consistency, making it perfect to spread with a small offset spatula or to put into a pastry bag with a plain tip and pipe. For a demonstration royal icing techniques, see Martha Stewart’s Ideal Sugar Cookies video.
¼ cup powdered egg whites (or meringue powder)
¼ cup water
4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon orange oil (or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract)
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the powdered egg whites and water, and beat slowly for a few minutes to dissolve the powder.
- Increase mixer speed to medium and continue mixing until the mixture is frothy.
- Add the powdered sugar, cup by cup, and mix until incorporated.
- Add the vanilla and orange extracts.
- Increase mixer speed to medium-high, and mix until the icing is thick and glossy, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the icing to a plastic storage container. Put a damp paper towel directly on top of the icing to keep a crust from forming.
- If not using within a couple of hours, cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate.
- When ready to ice your cookies, thin the icing to the desired consistency using 1 teaspoon of water at a time. You may also want to divide the icing between several small bowl and add a different color food coloring to each.
Makes 1 cup icing.
Here’s the LunaCafe Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Deck the Halls collection. If you bake along, one cookie a day from December 1st to December 12th, you’ll have a wonderful selection of holiday cookies to share with family and friends, with time to spare..
- On the 1st day of Christmas: Lily’s Swedish Vanilla Spritz
- On the 2nd day of Christmas: Orange Vanilla Sugar Cookies
- On the 3rd day of Christmas: Decidedly Lemon Teacakes
- On the 4th day of Christmas: Once in a Chocolate-Spice Moon Cookies
- On the 5th day of Christmas: Peppermint Stick Shortbread
- On the 6th day of Christmas: Lemon-Lime Clove Sugar Cookies
- On the 7th day of Christmas: Toasted Almond Black Cherry Shortbread
- On the 8th day of Christmas: Green Tea & Rose Spritz
- On the 9th day of Christmas: Almond Butter Poinsettia Cookies
- On the 10th day of Christmas: Lemon Orange Pecan Thumbprint Cookies
- On the 11th day of Christmas: Candy Cane Butter Cookies
- On the 12th day of Christmas: Ellen’s Swedish Pepparkakor ..
Copyright 2008=2015 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.
Those look awesome. And I’ve always wondered why cookies spread so thin. I never knew if it was them being too warm? Or the butter being too soft? Or what?
Susan S. Bradley
Mary, thanks! Th are other reasons that a cookie might be prone to spreading. Too much butter and too little flour will do it. I walk the line on that front in trying to amp the butter flavor and texture. So cold dough is essential with most of my cookies (except spritz).
I am in love with the idea of this flavor combination! I am imagining that spicy citrus pop as I dive into these gems. Beautiful, and they sound amazing!
Stunning cookie Susan, beautiful on a holiday tray! I can almost taste this….
These are some of the prettiest cookies I’ve ever seen! I love the flavors you’ve got going on here too, very unique!
Such pretty colors! Those are no ordinary cookies. 😉
I love these cookies – so festive. I have meringue powder that I bought several years ago and only used once. Does it go bad or can I still use it? Can you tell I’m thinking about trying your royal icing:)?
I love this unusual combination for sugar cookies! I just made the plain kind today, they are delicious, but yours sound so interesting!
These cookies are so festive and fun! I’m so traditional (read: boring!) in my own use of clove in baking and wouldn’t have thought to put clove with lime and lemon, but I bet it’s a delicious combo!
What festive cookies for the holidays! These would surely liven up any cookie platter!
Beautiful! I’d rather be served a delicious cookie than half of the cakes I’ve tried over the years, to be very honest.
These are beautiful. I love that they are lemon and lime! Citrus is my favorite and I bet in cookies the pairing is wonderful.
wow!!! These are the real deal cookies. I love the festive look!! So perfect for this time of year.
How pretty! The colored sugar looks like glitter!
You should submit these to our holiday cookie contest here: http://www.recipe4living.com/Common/Article.aspx?id=57946