Lemon Butter Cookies

I have made these Christmas cookies for years.  The powdered sugar gives them a lovely delicate texture and the red and green sanding sugar makes them festive and pretty.  They really need flavorful zest in the dough for the lemon flavor to shine through.

The slice-and-bake dough is simple to make.  I refrigerate the dough in wrapping paper cardboard in order to keep the log shape intact.  I use the leftover egg whites to make another traditional holiday cookie in my house, raspberry meringues. Perfect.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

  • Yield: Makes about 50
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature, divided
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • grated zest of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Approximately 1/2 cup colored sanding sugar or granulated sugar, for coating

  1. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium until smooth.
  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth and silky.
  3. Beat in 1 egg yolk, then the salt, vanilla, and lemon zest.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour, beating just until incorporated. Do not overbeat.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide dough in two and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Working on a smooth surface, form each piece of dough into a log 1 to 1 1 /4 inches in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Can be prepared up to this point and kept, well wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
  7. Place one rack in the upper third and one in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  8. Whisk the remaining egg yolk in a small bowl until smooth. Spread sugar out on a piece of wax paper.
  9. Remove the logs from refrigerator, unwrap, and brush lightly with the egg yolk. Roll logs in the sugar, pressing to adhere.
  10. Slice crosswise 1/4-inch-thick using a sharp knife. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1/2-inch between cookies.
  11. Bake until set but not brown, 11 (on convection) to 14 minutes.
  12. Transfer cookies to cooling rack until room temperature.

Note: Cookies will keep stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 5 days.

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