The heat and humidity of summer have officially arrived and it is blazing outside. All I want when I come inside from the hot weather is something fresh. These lemon ginger butter cookies are crisp and bright with a fresh lemon flavor and a slight bite from the candied ginger. The perfect summer combination!
I love lemon, but growing up we never had lemon flavored dishes or desserts because neither of my parents like the flavor. Lemon makes everything a little brighter and pairs so well with so many other flavors – both savory and sweet. This isn’t the first encounter with the lemon-ginger pairing on this blog. Remember the no-churn lemon gingersnap ice cream from last summer? We’re taking the ginger to another level and combining the flavors in a crisp, shortbread-like slice-and-bake butter cookie for a sophisticated summer dessert.
Lemon and ginger go so well together in desserts; the spicy ginger cuts some of the sweetness, and the lemon balances it out well. These lemon ginger butter cookies are easy to throw together and, while they do take a little chilling time, are great to keep in the fridge or freezer for when guests pop by on short notice. The house will smell delicious when they arrive and you will seem so much more put together and prepared than you actually are (or maybe that’s just me). If you are feeling like a real Martha Stewart you can roll the logs of dough in sugar before refrigerating. Fancy, fancy.
I picked up the candied ginger for these cookies from Trader Joe’s, where there were two candied ginger options. Why we need two types of candied ginger in such a tiny store, I’m not sure. One of the candied ginger bags was labeled “Sweet and Spicy,” while the other was labeled “Sweet and Smooth.” Lies. There is no such thing as sweet and smooth candied ginger at Trader Joe’s, don’t be fooled by their marketing ploy. Sure, compared to sweet and spicy, which makes the back of your throat catch on fire, the sweet and smooth is smoother, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is actually smooth. The smooth version is definitely less spicy than the package labeled as spicy, but it still has the bite that any kind of ginger should include. Don’t worry, it won’t make your cookies spicy, but keep in mind your taste preference when you are picking out your candied ginger. I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.
I’m not quite ready for the heat and humidity the summer brings, but if it means more of these lemon ginger butter cookies, I think I can handle it.
Lemon Ginger Butter Cookies
makes about 3 dozen
1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
¼ cup candied ginger, chopped
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar on medium speed for about 2 minutes. The mixture should be pale and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla and lemon zest and mix until combined.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour and salt. Mix until well combined, about another 2 minutes. Fold in the chopped ginger.
Separate the dough into two equal halves and shape each half into a log, about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap the dough logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold (at least 1 hour).
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the logs into ¼-inch-thick rounds and place each round about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until slightly golden, about 15-20 minutes. As butter cookies, these will be sandy cookies, but if you like your cookies less crisp, bake them for less time and don’t let the edges reach a golden color. Store unbaked dough in the refrigerator or freezer, and baked cookies in an airtight container.