Monday, March 1, 2010

Lemon-White Chocolate Butter Cookies


I just don't know how to act, you guys. Because seriously, the good recipe karma that has been flowing through the Piece of Cake kitchen lately is almost getting creepy. We've had a lot of hits around here lately, some of which I've yet to share with you. At this rate, I'm due for a real kitchen disaster that involves overflowing cake batter or burning the place down, but for now, I'll take it. These lemon white chocolate chip cookies are now firmly planted in my Top 5 cookie recipes of all time and that's juuuust fine by me.


This recipe comes from Bakewise, a book that I refer to again and again, not just for recipes, but for insane amounts of information on the science of baking. Are you familiar with Shirley Corriher, food scientist extraordinaire? You might recognize her as the jolly and very Southern woman with cropped silver hair who often appears on Good Eats with Alton Brown. Or as I like to think of her, the person who sits to my right at the table in my favorite daydream, wherein I have a loud, long lunch with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Ina Garten, Christopher Kimball and Nick Malgieri. Come to think of it, these cookies would be the most perfect little button on my imaginary menu for said lunch.


Shirley's recipes (or Shirlz, as I'd call her if we were real, actual friends) are among some of the most foolproof you'll ever find in any baking cookbook. She simply will not let you make a mistake--her unique voice is positively all over every single page. It's fantastic. And oh, that Shirlz, is she ever gabby--some of the recipes do run sort of long, and if you're a more experienced baker, you may be able to pick out the steps from the paragraphs without actually reading the entire recipe, and what you'll find with these cookies is that they are really sabl├ęs, the slice and bake, buttery French shortbread cookies that are dead simple to make and come together in minutes.

The Shirlz-y magical twist on this classic cookie that take it over the edge into oh em gee territory is a combination of sharp, bright lemon and sweet, dreamy white chocolate chips. It's an absolutely heavenly, remarkably balanced and ultimately craveworthy cookie. Oh, that Shirley. She'll getcha, I'm telling you.


This cookie dough is the kind that you'll want to make an entire batch of, even if you're not the type to want several dozen cookies in your house at any given time (though if you are one of these people, you are dead to me. I kid!). Once you get the dough together and form it into logs and wrap them tightly, it will keep for several months, and since these are of the slice-and-bake variety, you could even just slice off a few cookies at a time and bake them whenever the urge hits. You know those domestic queens who always talk about just "having things on hand" to serve to guests? Well, this is the way to do it. And if I drop by your place and these little buttery, crisp, lemony gems are what you serve me, well, I hope you don't mind sleepovers.


Lemon-White Chocolate Butter Cookies
Adapted from Shirley Corriher's Bakewise

Note the flour here is spooned and leveled--it does make a difference in how much ends up in the cup. Like many slice-and-bake butter cookie recipes, this dough freezes beautifully for several months. Don't worry about making perfectly circular logs out of the dough--I actually made mine into square-shaped logs because I think it makes them easier to slice and a round log usually ends up getting a little flat on a couple sides anyway. Once you taste these, looks are irrelevant.

Makes 4 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 large egg yolks
2 cups spooned and leveled all-purpose flour
1 cup white chocolate chips

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, salt, corn syrup, lemon extract, and lemon zest until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the yolks, one at a time, and beat with each addition, just to blend in thoroughly. On the lowest speed, beat in the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl and across the bottom once. Stir in the white chocolate chips.

Pat the dough into a disc and divide it into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each roll individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

When you're ready to bake, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper sprayed lightly with cooking spray or silicone baking mats. Slice cookies into about 3/8-inch slices (you should get 12 per log) and arrange about 1 inch apart on the sheets (I put about 20 on a sheet). Refrigerate one sheet while you bake the other--you want the dough as cold as possible when it goes into the oven to prevent spreading. Bake one sheet at a time until the edges just begin to brown, about 15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking. Allow to cool on the sheet for 2 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

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