Lemon-Lime Clove Sugar Cookies

On the sixthday of Christmas, ¯¯ my true love gave to me ¯¯ Lemon-Lime Clove Sugar Cookies.

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 and 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 then 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.

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

1.In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cloves, and salt. Whisk thoroughly to distribute the baking powder. Reserve.

2.Using a stand mixer, such as a KitchenAid 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,.

3.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.

4.Add the flour mixture and mix very briefly in short bursts, just until incorporated

5.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.)

6.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.

7.Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and place cookies on a lightly greased baking sheet.If desired, sprinkle with sanding sugar or sprinkles.

8.Bake at 375° for 7-10 minutes, until edges are just beginning to lightly brown.

9.Using a thin, flexible offset spatula, remove cookies from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.

10.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.

Royal Icing

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)

1.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.

2.Increase mixer speed to medium and continue mixing until the mixture is frothy.

3.Add the powdered sugar, cup by cup, and mix until incorporated.

4.Add the vanilla and orange extracts.

5.Increase mixer speed to medium-high, and mix until the icing is thick and glossy, about 5 minutes.

6.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.

7.If not using within a couple of hours, cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate.

8.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.

Come Back for More

Here is the LunaCafe Christmas 2008 Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies initial post and game plan with links to the following twelve cookies.

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: Almond Black Cherry Shortbread

On the 8th day of Christmas: Green Tea and Rose Spritz

On the 9th day of Christmas: Almond Butter Poinsettia Cookies

On the 10th day of Christmas: Lemon OrangePecan Thumbprints

On the 11th day of Christmas: Candy Cane Butter Cookies

On the 12th day of Christmas: Ellen’s Swedish Pepparkakor

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