In the pale light of the moon, many moons ago, I participated in a memorable dinner party in which each of the guests was assigned the preparation of part of the meal. It was early July and the focus was on seasonal produce and fruit. I drew the dessert course and started looking through my cookbook library for a perfect idea.
However, as the day of the party drew near, the dessert had moved to the back of my mind. Instead, I was frantically scouring countryside farm stands for squash blossoms, as I had also decided to bring an appetizer and wanted to wow everyone with chèvre- and herb-filled, cornmeal crusted, deep-fried squash blossoms. I finally wheedled my way into some gracious woman’s lush backyard garden, where she very kindly shared with me a basket full of the precious squash blossoms. (Nowadays, you can find squash blossoms at farmers markets in season, but back then, they were mighty difficult to obtain if you didn’t grow them yourself.)
By the time I got back to the kitchen, there was very little time remaining to prepare dessert. Plus, I didn’t have an idea. Frantically rifling through the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, I spied a recipe for Lemon Clove Cookies, which sounded intriguing. As I recall, the suggestion was to serve them with fresh-picked cherries, which I scored on the way to the party from a nearby roadside stand.
I served the Royal Anne cherries whole in a large silver bowl, with crème fraîche and brown sugar for dipping and the Lemon Clove Cookies on a doily-lined, silver tray alongside. This simple seasonal dessert was understated elegance and a big hit.
However, as good as the Chez Panisse cookie is, I later wanted to pair fresh cherries with an over-the-top lemon cookie in a chewy, rather than shortbread style. After a few rounds of testing, here is that highly addictive cookie. I think it will become one of your favorites.
Triple Lemon Doodles
This chewy cookie has over-the-top lemon appeal. Fresh lemon zest, lemon oil, and Lemonade Kool-Aid each play their parts in making these cookies one of my all-time favorites.
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened slightly but still cool (about 10 minutes out of the refrigerator)
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon lemon oil (or 1 teaspoon lemon extract)
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon unsweetened Lemonade Kool-Aid powder (about ½ small packet)
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Reserve for a moment.
- In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until just creamy, stop the mixer, add the sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon oil, and half the flour mixture, and beat slowly until combined, about 1 minute.
- Slowly beat in the remaining flour, just until combined.
- Remove the dough from the mixing bowl, put into a smaller container, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to a few days.
- To make the topping, in a small bowl, combine the sugar and the Kool-Aid powder. Cover with plastic wrap and reserve.
- With a small ice cream scoop (or spoon), scoop 1 tablespoon of chilled dough, keeping 1 side of the ball flat and release on a sheet of wax paper. Repeat with the remainder of the dough.
- Completely coat each cookie ball with the topping mixture and place on an ungreased baking pan, about 2 inches apart. Flatten each cookie slightly. A large baking sheet will hold 12 cookies. Repeat with the remainder of the dough.
- Bake at 350º for 12 minutes, until cookies are starting to crisp and brown at the edges, but are still noticeably soft in the center.
- Remove from the oven and let cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store airtight in a cool location.
Makes about 4½ dozen cookies.
SERVING NOTE Although best eaten as soon as they are cool enough to handle, these cookies retain a chewy texture for 1-2 days after baking. They never last that long in our house. J
FREEZING NOTE The dough freezes well, so I often form all of it into balls, arrange them on a baking sheet, side-by side, and freeze them. After they are frozen, I plop them into a freezer bag for storage. When you are ready to bake, just remove the desired number of cookies from the freezer, roll each one in the topping mixture, and proceed with the general directions, allowing the cookies to thaw for about 15 minutes on the baking sheet before baking. You may need to add a couple of minutes of baking time.
Triple Lime Doodles
Substitute lime zest, lime oil, and Lemon-Lime Kool-Aid for lemon zest, lemon oil, and Lemonade Kool-Aid.
Triple Lemon Clove Doodles
Add ½ teaspoon ground cloves at Step 2.
Triple Lemon Doodle Thumbprints
After arranging cookies on a baking sheet, flatten each cookie slightly, make a small indent in the center of each cookie, and then fill the indent with a tiny dollop of black cherry jam.