It’s my birthday today! The sun is shining and I couldn’t be happier. We have had many rainy days lately and it was beginning to wear on me. Reminding me of the long winters in Pennsylvania that I have never missed. Not today, however, because Mister Sun is high in the sky and Meyer lemons are in season.
A few rainy days ago I was chatting with my dear friend Mary about Meyer lemons. She was given an ornamental tree as a gift and it produced one glorious lemon. She was on the hunt for a special recipe where she could showcase her precious bounty. I wasn’t much help to her. I was drained of ideas and I had very little knowledge or experience with Meyer lemons. Not dissuaded, Mary set out on an internet search for a recipe. A day or two later, she arrived on my doorstep carrying a box of cookies. Meyer lemon butter cookies. These little jewels were so tasty, creamy yet light with a nice pop of citrus. I fell in love instantly. I later went to the grocery store where, low and behold, there was a stand of gorgeous golden Meyer lemons on sale. I scooped up a bunch and skipped through the check-out line wondering what I was going to do with them(Okay, I didn’t really “skip”).
Mary was kind enough to send me the link to the recipe she used. The recipe for Sablés au Citron from Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan is the perfect butter cookie recipe. I perused many recipes online and none compared to this one. What’s not to love about a recipe that calls for, not one but, two sticks of butter? The recipe had all the right elements for me but it was still missing something. As Emeril says, I wanted to “kick it up a notch” (for the record, I’m not an Emeril fan). I thought of my herb garden and what was left out there: Italian parsley, thyme & rosemary. I thought, “Rosemary! That’s it!” Meyer Lemon & Rosemary Butter Cookies! How sexy does that sound? This revelation prompted another internet search. I do wish I could stay focused. I am so easily side-tracked and so I was on the internet for hours, reading and salivating over many recipes. I did learn, however, that Meyer lemons are thought to be a hybrid of lemons and Mandarin oranges, developed in China 100 years ago. They are less acidic than other lemons and sweeter too. Their color is that of an egg yolk, another reason to love them.
I tweaked the recipe a bit and decided on two teaspoons of chopped rosemary. Some folks used one teaspoon while others called for one tablespoon. I wanted the rosemary to pair with the lemon, not overwhelm it. Also, the Greenspan recipe only called for using the zest. That wasn’t enough for me. I stripped these gorgeous lemons of their zest, what about the sweet, tangy juice? I decided to add a couple teaspoons of the juice to the batter as well. Below is a photograph of the resulting cookies and the recipe with my adjustments. Some of the cookies came out browner than is ideal. You want little to no color. They browner cookies still taste fabulous, but they aren’t as pretty as the nude ones.
Meyer Lemon & Rosemary Butter Cookies
Adapted from Sablés au Citron recipe from Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar (measured then sifted)
2 large egg yolks, divided
pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp Meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed
3-4 tsp finely grated Meyer lemon zest (to taste)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
approximately 1/2 cup granulated sugar (for coating)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until smooth, add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in 1 egg yolk, followed by salt, vanilla, juice and lemon zest.
On low speed, add the flour and rosemary and mix just until flour is incorporated.
Gather dough into a ball, divide in half, and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Chill dough for 30 minutes in refrigerator.
Form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 to 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap and chill dough for 2 hours in refrigerator. (Dough logs can be wrapped airtight and kept refrigerated for up to 3 days or stored in freezer for up to 1 month.)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or utilize a silicone mat or baking stone.
If you are coating your cookies with sugar, whisk the remaining egg yolk until it’s smooth and liquid enough to use as a glaze. Spread granulated sugar out on a piece of waxed paper. One log at a time, unwrap your chilled dough log and brush lightly with the egg yolk. Roll the log in sugar, pressing gently to help the sugar stick.
Slice each log into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Place on baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 inch between the cookies.
Bake at 350F for 12-14 minutes until they are set but not browned. (It’s okay if the yolk-sugar edges brown slightly.) Transfer cookies to cooling rack.
Yield: 50 cookies
Note: I didn’t do the yolk & sugar glaze. The resulting cookie is pretty, but who needs the extra sugar? Not I.
I just ate another cookie. They are “Slap yo Mama” good, really they are. Lemon and rosemary just go together like Sonny & Cher, Peaches & Herb, Tony Orlando & Dawn… good God, you’d think I was a child of the seventies.
Anyway… so then I had several Meyer lemons stripped of their zest. What to do with the juice? Then it hit me: cocktails! I brainstormed again and decided to make a rosemary simple syrup. 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water and 4 5-inch stems of fresh rosemary, needles stripped from the stem and roughly chopped. Throw all three ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Cool. Strain into a Tupperware cup and refrigerate. You can use this syrup for cocktails or to flavor and sweeten homemade lemonade. Here’s what I did with it:
1.5 ounce Bacardi Limon rum
Juice of half a Meyer lemon
a sprinkle of chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons rosemary simple syrup
*crushed ice & a stemless wine glass (tumbler)
In the wine tumbler squeeze the lemon and drop it into the glass. Add the rosemary and the simple syrup and muddle until the lemon is juiced. Fill 2/3 with crushed ice. Add rum and top off with club soda. Give it a stir and voila!
I am sufficiently full of sunshine, fresh sweet & tangy lemons, and love and birthday wishes from my family and friends. It’s a great day.