The December issue of Bon Appetit Magazine is a treasure chest of wonderful holiday recipes. I plan to try most of them before the season ends and my first choice is these lovely little Lemony Slice-and-Bakes. If I could make only one Christmas cookie it would be some variation of shortbread. The addition of egg yolks in this recipe produces a shortbread that has a rich flavor and finer texture than recipes that are flour, sugar and butter only, and the addition of lemon zest is a snappy contrast to the sweetness of the frosting. A few weeks ago I bought a little bottle of gold sanding sugar at Williams-Sonoma and think it is the perfect decoration for these elegant yet simple cookies.
- 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1-1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
- Sanding sugar (optional)
- Whisk flour and salt in a medium bowl.
- Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed beat butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, beat just to blend. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and beat, occasionally scraping down sides, just to blend.
- Divide dough in half; roll each half into a 10" long log about 1-3/4" in diameter. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm about 1 hour. Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Unwrap dough log. Using a sharp, lightly floured knife, cut log into ¼" thick rounds. Transfer to prepared sheet, spacing 1" apart.
- Bake until cookies are firm and golden brown around edges, 16-18 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Repeat with remaining log using cooled baking sheet and new parchment paper.
- Whisk sugar and 2 tablespoons juice in a small bowl, adding more juice by ½ teaspoonfuls if too thick. Spread or drizzle icing over cookies. Decorate as desired. Let stand until icing sets, about 20 minutes.
The recipe suggests that, in order to keep a nice cylindrical shape to the logs they should be put into cardboard paper towel tubes to chill or freeze. Bad idea. The dough is easy to shape and slice. Who thinks up these kinds of directions???? If you love shortbread and like the idea of a great cookie that can be made ahead and baked as needed I hope you will give this recipe a try. My family gives it a big thumbs up.