Lately, I spend my Wednesday nights searching for cookie recipes. It’s become something of a ritual. I pull cookbooks off the shelves, pile them up on the table, or around the couch, or on the bed, and then begin flipping. There are a lot of requirements. It has to be different from the ones I made last week, not require crazy ingredients that I’ll have to try find on Thursday morning; it can’t be too complicated or require a lot of assembly (no sandwich cookies please). Plus, it has to be impressive because, I’ll be honest here, I’m pretty proud of my cookie baking skills and any recipe I choose has to show them off. We all have our vanities, right?
My audience isn’t very picky. The cookies – researched Wednesday night and baked on Thursday morning – go to my Thursday night Frisbee team. They’re distributed at the end of the game when everyone is a little winded and hungry from missing dinner. No one but me really cares if the cookies are the same every week or if they come from a break-and-bake package or even if they’re there. It’s a nice bonus to cap off a game but not really a mandatory treat (although at this point I might have made it one).
Mostly cookies are a way to say thanks. In this case it’s “thanks for showing up” but I’ve baked them to say “thanks for inviting me,” “thanks for your help,” and “thanks for being there.” I mean, what’s better than edible appreciation?
The goal here is a crowd pleaser. Chocolate is a good idea, so are tried-and-true recipes where you know the results will turn out well. And avoiding bitter or herbal flavors, which can be hit or miss, seems like a no-brainer. But when I came across this cookie recipe I threw all of that out the window. Swapped chocolate for lemon, threw in some thyme, and made a relatively soft sugar cookie that seemed like it might not roll properly. The outcome? Maybe the best cookie of the season. So far, of course.
Makes about 30 cookies
Ok, this recipe ended up being easy but it had some of those “oh man this will never work moments.” First, the dough is very very soft. So soft I thought it wouldn’t roll properly into little balls like it’s supposed to. But it will if you just dunk it in powdered sugar. Never fear. Also, my cookies never got the lovely crinkle that Lauren’s seemed too; maybe because I didn’t use as much powdered sugar? But the flavor was great so I probably won’t up the sugar next time. I might add more thyme though. These were more hint-of-thyme than full on lemon and thyme and while it was a good choice for a post-Frisbee snack, in other settings more thyme would be a great choice.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tsp)
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tbs)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract (optional but really adds to the flavor)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp ground thyme
Preheat the oven to 350F and line two cookie sheets with parchment or foil. This makes a lot of cookies so you’ll probably need to bake in batches and having two pans ready to go makes this easier and less time consuming.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl if you’re using an hand mixer, combine the butter and the two sugars and mix on medium speed until fully creamed, lightened in color, and fluffy. This should take at least 3 minutes. Then add the egg, lemon juice and zest, and extracts and continue to mix on medium until well combined. Turn the speed down to low and add the flour mixture. Mix until not quite combined, then turn the machine off and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Give it the last few stirs by hand and then put the bowl aside.
Mix the thyme with the powdered sugar and spread it out onto a place. I sifted this mixture but it didn’t really seem worth the time and effort. Feel free to sift if your powdered sugar is very lumpy.
Using two teaspoons, scoop out about two teaspoons of dough, slightly smaller than a ping pong ball and drop it in the powdered sugar mixture. Roll the dough in the powdered sugar and then roll it around in your hands to get rid of the excess. Place the finished cookie on the baking sheet and repeat until the sheet is full. You want to leave about 2 inches between each cookie. I managed to get a dozen on each sheet.
Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned and the tops are no longer shiny and wet looking. They won’t necessarily look fully baked on top when done so use the sides to judge brownness.
Let them cool on the sheet for a few minutes and then remove them to a cooling rack to hang out until they’re fully cooled. Since they’re so soft I’d guess they’ll go stale pretty quickly; you probably will only get a few days out of them. But they were all gone with 12 hours so no promises on that one.