Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Tomorrow is our neighborhood's annual July 3 picnic. We each bring what we're grilling plus a side dish or dessert to share. I'm bringing pasta salad and 4 different kinds of cookies. I've already made a peanut butter cookie and a chocolate chip cookie and I still have some Berger cookies in the freezer. The July issue of Southern Living had a Frosted Sugar-'n'-Spice Cookies recipe that caught my eye. Perfect, I thought....until I priced the red and blue sprinkles. No way, not with my new conservationist mode of baking/shopping.
So I improvised. I didn't rush out and buy the 5-sided star cookie cutter; instead I used my 6-sided star cutter. It was smaller, but did the job. Instead of making a spice cookie, I made a lemon cookie; instead of plain white frosting, I made lemon cream cheese frosting. I used up more of the self-rising flour and more of the box of True Lemon. These cookies are soft and cakey and very good. I ate two and wanted more. The brown sugar works well with the lemon. Even though they're not red, white and blue, I think these cookies will be a hit.

Frosted Lemon Cookies, adapted from Southern Living's Frosted Sugar-'n'-Spice Cookies, 1/2 recipe
Rating: 8 out of 10
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3 packets True Lemon (or 2 tsp. lemon juice)
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used 1-1/2 oz. fat-free + 1-1/2 oz. Neufchatell)
1/4 cup sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. orange zest
2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Sift together first 4 ingredients in a bowl. In a medium-large bowl, whisk butter, cream cheese and sugars by hand till very smooth. (You can use electric mixer if you prefer; I just think it's easier to do cookies by hand.) Add egg yolk, zests and vanilla and whisk again till very smooth. Stir in flour mixture with spatula, mixing till just combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F. Place dough on floured surface; roll to 1/4" thickness; cut with cookie cutter of choice. Place 1" apart on ungreased, parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or till cookies are set and just beginning to brown around edges. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely before frosting. Yield: 26 cookies

Lemon-Cream Cheese Frosting
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened (I used half fat-free, half Neufchatel
good pinch of sea salt
2 packets True Lemon (or 2 tsp. lemon juice)
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1-1/2 cups 10X sugar (confectioner's)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 Tbsp. fat-free half and half (or more if needed to make a spreading consistency)

In small bowl, with electric mixer, whip butter, cream cheese, salt, True Lemon, lemon zest and 1/2 cup of 10X sugar on low speed till combined; then whip at medium speed till smooth and fluffy. Gradually add remaining 10X sugar, vanilla and half and half. Add more half and half, if needed, to make a frosting of spreading consistency. (I only used 1/2 Tbsp.)

When cookies are cool, spread a thin layer of frosting over the tops. Sprinkle with crushed nuts or sprinkles of choice. (If freezing: Air dry on racks for 1 hour before layering them in a container for the freezer. The frosting will harden just enough that you will be able to layer them.)

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