I once read, you should never, ever answer the phone when making a cake. Nothing should interrupt the beating, folding, pouring, leveling, etc...etc... of the cake batter. It can lead to dismal results. As of yesterday, the mixing of cookie dough -- for me at least -- will also fall under that warning. This Lemon Butter Cookie is an easy one to mix up, and made even easier as a log cookie. No rolling, no cookie cutters. Mix the dough, make a couple of logs, chill, then roll in granulated sugar before slicing... Easy!
But during this process, I took a phone call and continued to assemble the dough while talking. The egg was forgotten, and when I realized what I had done, I added it after the flour had already been incorporated -- definitely not recommended! Worse yet, I quickly added the entire egg; not the single yolk that was called for. And all of this jumbled mess the result of a phone conversation. But (surprisingly) these cookies were still good! Use European butter if you can, and be generous with the lemon zest. If the lemons are small, use two. Oh... and try to keep from answering the phone when it rings, buzzes, beeps, or vibrates...
an adapted recipe from Pâtisserie Lerch, Paris
as printed in Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan
• 2 sticks (8 ounces; 230 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2/3 cup (70 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
• 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
• Pinch of salt
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• Grated zest of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons (I recommend using 2 lemons, if small)
• 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
• Approximately 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar, for coating
1. Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until it is smooth. Add the sifted confectioners sugar and beat again until the mixture is smooth and silky. Beat in 1 of the egg yolks, followed by the salt, vanilla, and grated lemon zest. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, beating just until it disappears. It is better to underbeat than overbeat at this point; if the flour isn't fully incorporated, that's OK—just blend in whatever remaining flour needs blending with a rubber spatula. Turn the dough out onto a counter, gather it into a ball, and divide it in half. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
2. Working on a smooth surface, form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 to 1 1/4-inches thick. Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 2 hours. (May be wrapped airtight and kept refrigerated for up to 3 days; store in freezer for 1 month.
3. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. While the oven is preheating, work on the sugar coating: Whisk the remaining egg yolk in a small bowl until it is smooth and liquid enough to use as a glaze. Spread the sugar out on a piece of wax paper. Remove the logs of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap them, and brush them lightly with a little egg yolk. Roll the logs in the sugar, pressing the sugar gently to get it to stick if necessary, then, using a sharp slender knife, slice each log into cookies about 1/4 inch (7 mm) thick. (You can make these thicker if you'd like; just bake them longer.) Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) space between them.
5. Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are set but not browned. (It's fine if the yolk-brushed edges brown a smidgen.) Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.
• Packed airtight, the cookies will keep for about 5 days at room temperature. Because the sugar coating will melt, these cookies are not suitable for freezing.
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