Oh, my friends, we were in a restaurant the other night and the oddest thing happened…
This lady at the table took the lemon wedge of her plate and, after squeezing it over her pasta, peeled off the rind and ATE the lemon! It was… it was… OK, it was totally me. I ate the lemon wedge. I also eat the decorative orange slices at the Asian restaurant, and fish the lime out of my sparkling water so I can eat that, too.
My name is MaryJane, and I’m a citrus fiend. (“Hi MaryJane”).
Ever since I can remember I’ve been eating the lemon wedge that came with dinners. I remember as a little one in dresses and hair bows filching the lemon from my parents’ plates. In college, at the BYOB Mexican restaurant, I used to ask for an extra plate of lime wedges – not just for my Corona beer, but to nibble on as well.
I know I’m not alone. I know (errr, I hope) some of you will chime in with a comment about your love of citrus, too, and your own lemon-wedge adventures. After all, fruit that’s so brightly colored and so heavenly scented MUST have been put here for us to enjoy, crave, and downright worship.
I’ve been wanting to write up a recipe for these cookies for quite awhile. Back in the day, I made my share of spritz cookies laced with Jell-O powder to get bright colors and flavors. Now that I’m here at KAF and have access to the glory that’s fruit juice powders, I just had to update my recipe and share it with you, my friends.
It’s truly as simple a recipe as they get. While the lemon juice powder and orange juice powder do amazing things for the flavor, you can certainly use fresh zest to get the same bounce and brightness. These cookies are fantastic on their own, or with a glass of iced tea. Sandwich them with some vanilla ice cream and you’ll be in frozen food heaven for the rest of the day.
Let’s get started on our Citrus Stripe Cookies.
Into the mixing bowl goes:
1 1/2 cups (24 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Hey, what is “soft” butter, exactly? If you press your finger into the butter, it should just leave a divot from your fingertip. If you can’t press into the surface, then the butter is too cold. If your finger sinks in or you can press all the way through, then it’s too warm.
Beat on medium speed with the paddle until the mixture is smooth and creamy. I know mayonnaise is not the most appetizing comparison, but it’s a pretty good one. Fluffy, smooth mayo.
Add 3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and beat again until combined.
It’s OK to stop a little short on this step, as you’re going to be beating the dough again when you add the flavors and colors. A little bit of unblended flour is fine at this stage.
Divide the dough in thirds. To each third, add 2 tablespoons fruit juice powder* and 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon matching citrus oil. Adding matching food coloring will help distinguish your favors from one another, and will bring that festive touch to the cookies. You can, of course, go for the pastels; but for me, it’s brights all the way.
*If you don’t happen to have fruit juice powder, use two tablespoons freshly grated rind (zest) instead.
Once the doughs are flavored and colored, wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for 30 to 60 minutes.
To make the striped cookies, roll the dough into strips 3″ wide and about 1/4″ thick. Cut into 6″ long strips and stack, alternating colors. Use a pastry roller or your fingers to gently press the layers together. Brushing with a touch of water can be a help, too.
Wrap and chill the finished block for 30 minutes. (This is also a good point to wrap well, label, and freeze for up to 3 months).
When the dough is chilled, use a sharp chef’s knife to trim the edges. As the photo says, don’t throw away those scraps of dough! We have a special plan for them later.
Slice 1/4″ slices of dough and bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a preheated 350°F oven for 13 to 15 minutes, or until firm when pressed. Cool completely and enjoy!
Too hip to be square? How about a perfect bulls-eye? Roll one portion of dough into a 2″ diameter cylinder. Roll another portion to a matching square, about 1/4″ thick. Brush the square with water. Place the log of dough on the square and roll up jelly-roll style.
Use your fingers to seal the edge of the first sheet of color. Repeat with the third color. Chill, slice, and bake as directed above. It’s a ringer!
Remember those scraps of trimmed dough? Here’s a fun way to make some wacky tie-dye cookies. Press and roll the scraps into a log about 2″ in diameter. Give the log a few gentle twists, as if you were wringing out a towel.
Wrap, chill, slice, and bake as directed. Each cookie will be wildly different with a splashy blend of citrus flavors. These cookies would make a great addition to any kid’s lunchbox; or serve them at your next ’60s rockin’ retro party!
There, I’m done with my fruitful confessions for the day. Please, tell me I’m not alone and share your lemon-lime lovin’ stories, too.
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