Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies / by Cynthia Raub

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I love lemon poppy seed anything: cookies, muffins, scones, you name it! These cookies are addictively crisp, with a tender crumb and are a perfect addition to any cookie assortment. The lemon zest lends a fragrant floral note in addition to its citrusy sweetness. These cookies are especially delicious with tea because of they are delicate and subtly sweet. This recipe is simple, adaptable, and perfect for preparing in advance for your special occasions. 

Notes: I have adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who has adapted a simple slice and bake recipe from cookie queen Dorie Greenspan. Deb of Smitten Kitchen recommends different add-ins such as cranberries and orange, or lime and cornmeal - the possibilities of substitutions are endless with this recipe. To get a beautifully round cookie, roll the log tightly in the plastic wrap as described in the instructions. If you have an empty paper towel roll handy, cut through it lengthwise and nestle the dough roll inside of it to protect the roll's round edges.


Time: 30 minutes active,  2.5 hours inactive
Yield: About 30 cookies

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
Zest of 2 lemons (about 2 heaping tablespoons)
1/3 cup poppy seeds

Beat room temperature butter on medium speed in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add sifted confectioners sugar and continue to beat on medium until smooth. Once smooth, add egg yolks, one at a time until incorporated. Add salt, vanilla extract, lemon extract, lemon zest and poppy seeds- beat until combined and smooth. Lower the mixing speed and add the flour, a 1/2 cup at a time. Continue to mix until wet mixture binds to the flour but do not over mix. 

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and gently gather it into a ball. Divide the ball into two and wrap each half in plastic wrap- refrigerate for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes of resting and firming in the refrigerator, remove one dough ball from its plastic wrap and roll gently into a log (about 1.5 inches thick) on a clean and flat surface. Place the rough log onto a clean sheet of plastic wrap, wrapping the plastic wrap around the length of the log to secure the shape. Take the ends of the plastic wrap and roll the log of dough against the table away from your body until the plastic wrap is taught and the ends are secure. Repeat with the second roll, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. *Optional: Cut a toilet paper roll or paper towel roll through its length and place the log(s) into the roll- this will protect the log from developing a flat side.

Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking pans with parchment paper. Remove the dough logs from the refrigerator, unwrap it from its plastic and place on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, slice log into 1/4" thick cookies. Gently pat the rough cut edges of the cookies with your fingers, rounding out any flat or uneven spots and place on baking pan with 1 inch space between cookies.

Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes until crisp and barely golden. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking to ensure even cooking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.