Lemon Crinkle and Sugar Swirl Cookies, Christmas Baking Part 1

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I have just completed part 1 of my crazy Christmas bake-fest with the help of my nephew, and unfortunately I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not going to be able to make all of the cookies I wanted to make this year. First up on the chopping block: Gingerbread Cookies. I can’t say I’m too disappointed, there’s only one person on my list who actually likes these cookies and she ate plenty of them last year. Besides, there are a ton more cookies that will be included! I’m also going to do my best to keep the cake balls in the running, but I’m starting to think I’ll only make one kind instead of two… we’ll see. Other than that, I think it will all work out.

A big reason I’m cutting out the gingerbread cookies (aside from people not really missing them) is that today I have learned that I hate rolling out dough. If it’s not sticky, it gets too dry and it falls apart and I get sad and then I throw away a quarter of the dough I made. True story. Happened today. Still not happy about that. Maybe once I get the knack for properly rolling out dough, I’ll feel differently, but for now… no thanks.

I do have good news, despite all of this negativity: I have discovered my new favorite cookie of all time and my Sugar Swirl Cookies came out wonderful!

Lemon Crinkle Cookies (Adapted from The Kitchen Paper)

I’m pretty surprised by the Lemon Crinkle Cookies to be honest. Today was my first time making them and although I had some doubts about the dough (it was a pretty loose sticky dough), every time I got a whiff of it a smile just appeared on my face. They smell as delicious as they actually taste. Once baked they’re like little lemon pillows coated in powdered sugar. Really, they’re like little lemon cakes. I actually got the recipe from The Kitchen Paper, and I’m really happy with it. In my case I doubled the recipe and came out with around 70 cookies, most of which are now safely freezing away in my brother’s freezer. The main thing I changed here was the addition of some lemon oil to help really give it a lemony punch. Keep in mind that the ingredients and proportions listed here are for a double batch.

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tsp lemon zest (about 3 lemons worth)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp lemon oil (optional)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. With clean fingers, rub the zest into the granulated sugar until very fragrant.
  3. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until smooth.
  5. Add the lemon juice, lemon oil, and vanilla extract, and mix again until smooth.
  6. Add the flour mixture and mix until the dough just comes together.
  7. Chill the dough for 30 minutes before continuing.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  9. Roll dough into ⅛ cup balls, then roll in powdered sugar until well coated. Arrange 2″ apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  10. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes.

Sugar Swirl Cookies (adapted from SaltTree)

Again, I doubled this recipe, but I’m not sure about it. I know I really messed it up otherwise I wouldn’t have had to throw away a quarter of it, but I’ll chalk that up to not having rolled anything out in a very long time. I would still give this recipe a chance, especially if you stick to the proportions and directions in the original recipe. Overall, I’d say these were pretty nice. Once I got the dough all set up and rolled out and rolled up into a log to create the swirl I think it came out great, definitely not too sweet. With the doubled recipe, I came out with four approximately 6 inch logs, but keep in mind that I also had to throw away a quarter of my dough. This definitely makes a lot of cookies. I’m estimating about 80-90 cookies out of this. The following is also listed for a double batch.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Food coloring

Directions: 

  1. Measure the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl, mix and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and the sugar.  Once smooth, add the eggs, vanilla and combine well.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the butter / egg mixture a little at a time.  Mix until the dough is smooth and flour is fully incorporated.
  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap so that it is touching the surface of the dough.  Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  5. Divide dough into four portions and using your chosen colors dye each portion to your desired hue
  6. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough portion to about the same sized rectangle slightly thinner than you would for a cut cookie.
  7. Layer two (or in my case three) portions on top of each other then carefully roll these up to create a log which will make the swirl effect once you slice these.
  8. Allow the logs to firm up in the freezer/refridgerator and at this point it’s a slice and bake deal. Slice them to about a quarter of an inch of thickness and bake at 350F for about 8-10 minutes

Pro tips: I used my handy dandy small cookie scoop to portion out the Lemon Crinkle Cookies then coated them in powdered sugar before placing them in ziplock bags to place in the freezer before baking them off for Christmas. Before baking the test batch, I did recoat the balls and I think it all worked out well.

For rolling out the Sugar Swirl Cookies, I’ve found that rolling the dough out onto plastic wrap or waxed paper will make your life so much easier. It’s also much easier to roll the layers into a log if you have something to hold onto, just flip up an edge of the dough, grab the nearest edge of paper/plastic wrap and gently pull towards yourself for a nice roll up.

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