While there is some debate as to whether cake or pie is the better dessert (ahem, pie), hardly anyone refutes the superiority of cookies for sweet snacking. Oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip and peanut butter are great stand-by flavors, but I’m always interested in fresh, new baking ideas. Dark chocolate and peppermint cookies, honey-almond biscotti and carrot-ginger cookies are all delicious… but my favorite cookie right now has to be the lemon wreath.
My first batch of lemon wreath cookies came to me as a gift in a brown paper bag from my dear friend Ellen. The most striking aspect of these treats was how subtle they are ⎯ you can detect lemon, yes, but they aren’t very tart. The lemon flavor is soft, blending sweetly with the notes of vanilla. Quite frankly, it was love at first bite.
I googled “lemon wreaths” to find the recipe for these tasty treats. They had been featured in Martha Stewart Living (yeah, yeah, hold your judgment — she knows her baked goods) a few years ago, initially introduced by Christine Albano. Every time I’ve made these cookies they have always turned out well. I amended the original recipe to include wheat, instead of white, flour. I hope you lemon-lovers will appreciate them as much as I do!
LEMON WREATHS – yields 5-6 dozen
For the cookies:
3 cups King Arthur 100% white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
16 tablespoons butter
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I recommend Madagascar Bourbon vanilla)
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch sea salt
For the glaze:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
7-8 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup silver nonpareils, for decorating
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
3. Combine the sugar and zest until completely blended. Add butter, and blend until creamy and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and lemon juice.
4. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients until well combined.
5. Scoop one tablespoon of batter and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll into a log-shape, and press the ends to make a little wreath.
6. Bake each batch for about 18 minutes, or until pale golden on the bottom.
7. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and juice to make a glaze, and set aside. Once the cookies have cooled fully, drizzle the glaze on top of them. I recommend you transfer them onto parchment paper for less of a mess.
8. Scatter the nonpareils on top of the beautiful little cookies.
9. Marvel at the beauty of lemon wreaths and pat yourself on the back.
These cookies are a bit more intensive than traditional chocolate chip, but you can make little assembly lines with friends for a lot of the shaping, baking, and decorating of these cookies. Roll up your sleeves, put on some doo-wop records, and have yourself a merry little cookie-baking night!