Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lemon Tea Cookies

Did you know the founder of the Girl Scouts was from Savannah, GA? Somewhere in the back of my mind I had that bit of trivia but had pretty much forgotten it until browsing my new copy of Southern Desserts by the folks at Southern Living Magazine.

They have included an old recipe for "Tea Cakes" which are actually "Tea Cookies" and are connected to Juliette Gordon Low who founded the Girl Scouts of America around 1912. One of her early techniques for gathering interest and funding was holding tea parties.

At any rate, I've always been a supporter of GSA because of their non-discrimination policies and their incredibly tasty fund raising activities. In fact, many years ago when I was sharing an apartment with my best friend our love of Girl Scout Cookies got a bit out of hand. He purchased almost two dozen boxes from a co-worker's daughter. Meanwhile, I purchased about two dozen from one of my co-workers who was a troop leader! We had to literally clean out our pantry to stock Girl Scout Cookies! I would love to report they lasted us for months but unfortunately, I don't think we made it more than about 6 weeks before we'd cleaned out the whole batch!

These cookies, featured in Southern Living are a delight. They are wafer thin and with my addition of a bit of lemon zest have a light lemony flavor that is perfect with tea. A little sprinkle of sugar just before baking gives them a sparkly texture too.

I can see these plain but also used to make large sandwich cookies featuring a little lemon whipped cream or other filling. They'd also make a great base for a dessert tian.

So, enjoy the "little tea cakes" inspired by the tea parties of Juliette Gordon Low and the genesis of the Girl Scouts in Savannah.

1 cup butter, softened
2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Beat butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat will. Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and lemon zest and beat until blended. Sift together flour, soda and salt and add to butter mixture in fourths, beating after each addition on low speed until mixed.

Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate a minimum of one hour (I found about 2-3 works best). Remove dough from refrigerator and roll on floured surface to about 1/4-inch. Cut with 2 1/2" round cookie cutters.

Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little sugar and lightly press into cookies. Bake in preheated 350° oven for about 10-12 minutes or until edges just slightly brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on sheet for 5 minutes then remove to cooling rack.
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