Friday, November 20, 2009

Lemon wreath cookies

Observe the latest creation:

It's lemon dough twisted into a doughnut shape, then baked and topped with lemon glaze and cute fall-leaf sprinkles. I got the recipe from Martha Stewart's magazine which informs me that these are Italian cookies known in their home country as ciambelle. Here it is with my comments in italics:

Lemon Wreaths

Makes 6 dozen [Rachel says: no, it doesn't. It makes 44 cookies if each one uses a tablespoon of dough.]

For the cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

For the glaze
3 cups confectioners' sugar [Two is plenty.]
7 to 8 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 4 lemons) [ 2.5 lemons gave about 1/4 - 1/3 cup, which was enough. 16 tablespoons = 1 cup.]
1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons white nonpareils, for sprinkling [Or any sprinkles you like.]

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Make the cookies: Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Pulse the sugar and zest in a food processor until combined, about 2 minutes.

  2. Beat sugar-zest mixture and butter in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until combined.

  3. Scoop 1 tablespoon dough (or use a 1 1/8-inch ice cream scoop), and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 4-inch rope. [Make it five inches, or the opening in the ring won't be big enough and it'll close when the dough puffs up in the oven.] Bring ends together, overlapping slightly, and press together to form a ring. Repeat with remaining dough. Transfer rings to parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart, as you work. Bake until pale golden on the bottoms and around the edges, about 18 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and let cool.

  4. Make the glaze: Whisk together confectioners' sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth. [This is the tasty part. Make the glaze as thick as you can so there'll be a thicker layer on the cookies.] Dip the top side of each cookie into glaze, letting the excess drip off. [If the glaze is thick the coating might look rough and peaky, but once you set the cookie down it settles into a smooth layer.] Return cookies to wire racks, glaze sides up, and sprinkle with nonpareils. Let dry completely. Decorated cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
But of course there must be pictures! Here are lemon zest and lemon juice.

Lemon zest mixed with sugar. Maybe I'll just stop the recipe here and snack. :)

No, I'll add the butter and then stop the recipe.

Okay, here it is with eggs and flour and all. I'm totally about to lick that beater.

Looking dubiously at my "floured surface". I don't have much experience rolling out dough with flour.

A four-inch rope of dough, a tablespoon of dough waiting to be rolled, and a nice doughnut shape. These were my first attempts; later I learned not to coat with so much flour and to stretch out the dough a bit more.

A tray of doughnut-shaped cookies for baking!

And it's glaze time!

Sprinkling wet glaze with fall leaves and snacking as I go.

I made fall-leaf cookies till the sprinkles ran out...

And then switched to some other fall-colored sprinkles.

My mom had some colored sugar that looked brown, so next I tried that. But it was really rather pink:

That inspired me to try yellow, since these were lemon cookies, after all.

Here they all are on the cooling rack:


And here's what the counter looked like when I removed the rack. Glaze dripped all over the place.

Let's try more closeups!

You just want to chomp into that nice drape of lemon glaze, don't you? It's begging to be eaten.

I took care of it.

And here's a side view of a leaf cookie. Click for a bigger version, set as your desktop background. :)


I'm going to admit that the lemon dough was a bit bland for my taste. I should have been on my guard when I saw that the recipe called for three cups of flour and only 2/3 cup sugar. My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, in contrast, has two cups of flour and two of sugar. Sugar and flour in equal proportions = OM NOM NOM! Much less sugar than flour = what's the point? I suppose these Italians don't know the proper use of sweetness, but we Americans are expert in that area, if by expert we mean that we eat a lot of it. :) The glaze on top rescued the cookies, and I didn't have any trouble finding takers who would eat them, but I wouldn't go to all the trouble of making this recipe again, not when there are so many recipes out there of superior sugariness.

Oh, right, and why is a Thanksgiving cookie a Catholic dessert? Because the Eucharist is a Catholic thing and Eucharist in Greek means "Thanksgiving". Q.E.D.


Vincenzo said...


Rachel Gray said...

Oh, I do like that emoticon. :) I haven't seen that one before!

Anonymous said...

Adding 1 tsp partially crushed anise seed and 1/2 tsp lemon extract really makes the cookie tasty! I also only cooked them 12 minutes, to avoid dry cookies!

Rachel Gray said...

Ooo, good tips! Thank you. The problem is, now I want to make the recipe again!