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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons

I read yet another article yesterday, this one in the New York Times, about how eating raw cookie dough is bad for you.

Well, sure.  Raw eggs can contain E. coli and other bacteria.  But get this--the article was about how raw flour can be tainted.

Oh great, another thing to worry about while I continue to eat raw cookie dough.  I can't help it, and let's face it, neither can you.  Are any of you not susceptible to eating it?  I'm looking around and I don't see any hands.  OK, that's because I'm working late and there's no one else here.  But still.

I am particulary partial to sweets that aren't that sweet.  Contradiction?  Not really.  Give me tangy hard candy, tart gelato or a lightly sweet pastry and I'm happy.  Sickly sweet sweets need not apply to be my dessert.

When David and I hosted the Inspecting Carol cast and crew dinner a couple of weeks ago, we were too crazed making the main course for me to spend a lot of time making dessert.  I finally settled on these cookies.

The dough was irresistible, but the cookies were phenomenal.  Cakey, slightly crumbly and just the right degree of sweet to follow a big meal.  Definitely a keeper, with or without the sugar glaze on top.

These are glazed, but the glaze is so light-colored that it doesn't show up in the photos.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies
Adapted from Lidia's Italy in America by Lidia Bastianich

For the cookies:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
8 ounces part-skim ricotta, drained if necessary
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. lemon zest

For the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup lemon juice, preferably fresh-squeezed

Prehear the oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare two baking sheets by either spraying them with nonstick baking spray or covering them in parchment paper.

Whisk together the sifted flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixture on medium speed until the butter is light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each one until thoroughly combined.

Add the ricotta, almond extract and lemon zest all at once and beat until the mixture is smooth.  Add the flour mixture and beat very briefly on low speed.

Drop small lumps of the dough, about a tablespoon each, onto the prepared baking sheets.  Don't worry if the lumps are not precisely even--that's part of the charm of these cookies. 

Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden and fluffy.  Transfer the cookies to wire racks and cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, make the glaze.  Place the lemon juice in a medium bowl and whisk in the powdered sugar bit by bit until the glaze is thick and pale yellow.  You may not need all the powdered sugar.

When the cookies are cool, dunk the top of each one in the glaze and return them to the racks to dry.

Makes approximately 36 cookies.


  1. I love these cookies I make them every October tinted in pink for Breast Cancer month. They are so delicious, I cant stop eating them yours look fabulous!

  2. I will still continue to eat cookie dough despite the warnings ;)! Your cookies sound delicious! Great choice, I am loving the ricotta along with the tangy lemon combo!

  3. I make these every year - but without the lemon. They are irresistible. As I am reading this, my daughter is picking off chunks of just-made dough from the fridge. My reminders of salmonella fell on deaf ears. I only hope the dough lasts so I can actually bake cookies from it!

  4. I read almost the similar article in "Globe and Mail" in the Life column.My husband showed me particularly because I like to eat chocolate cookie dough. Anyways, forget it, Your cookies with ricotta cheese does look incredible and cakey.

  5. These look absolutely amazing! Honey Bunny loves desserts and sweets that aren't too sweet. I like them both ways, so these work for me! YUM!

  6. I do can't resist the raw dough of cookies and cakes too, like putting my finger inside and licking the balance from the bowl or pinching some of the dough of cookie and gulp down the throat. But these days I seldom do that as baking is a once a while thing now.

    Lemon cookies - hahhhhhhhhh!!! I simply love it and I can sort of get that tangy feeling in my mouth now, nice and creative cookies you have made.

  7. The blend of lemon and ricotta is irresistible so I know these gems would be gobbled up in this house.
    Eating raw cookie dough that I made at home is a risk I can make a decision on. Regarding food safety in public, I just cringe when I see people at gatherings picking at food with their bare hands. How about slicing a cake and balancing the side opposite the knife with your hands, but licking the icing off your fingers of that same balancing hand after you serve every slice? Also, that guy with a cold pulling up a spoonful of food to his nose to sniff it at a buffet and putting it back in the dish is just gross. Hello-people-you are not at home!
    Dirty ignorance is the source of e-coli born in public places.

  8. I ALWAYS HAVE to eat the cookie dough, it is an addiction for me. These cookies look great. I still have Key Limes falling from our tree, I might try these, substituting Key Lime juice.

  9. My husband always gives me the look when he sees me eating cookie dough! But after almost 40 years of indulging, I think I might be immune to salmonella. But not so sure about e-coli :/

    Great cookies! My hubby is always up for something lemony :)

  10. I still don't think I'll be giving up eating raw cookie dough anytime soon though! I think I'd take mine without the glaze...

  11. I'm with you on the whole not too sweet sweets. Loving these cheesey lemony treats with the invisible glaze :)

  12. Oh I've heard of these cookies and they sound so delicious!!

  13. @Tina, that's why I just can't do buffets! I'm not a germaphobe, but even I have my limits. Ick!

    @SaucyGourmet, I bet these would be killer with key limes. If life in Florida gives you key limes, you should definitely use them.

    @Claudia@What's Cookin'--I wonder if these would be good with chunks of dried cherry to add that pinky-red color. What a great idea, though!

  14. This recipe sound perfect to me..hmm got to disappoint you I actually don't like cookie dough, my kids do..but I know the uncooked flour is not good for I stop them before they even put in their mouth!

  15. These look so yummy! I don't like things that are incredibly sweet either. And oh, I love cookie dough!

  16. Love the combination of lemon and ricotta in those cookies...marvelous!

  17. Lovely combination! Lemon and ricota sound completely irresistible :)

  18. Oooh! Lip-puckering lemon. Love me some lemon cookies! These sound ace!

    And I'm not gonna let some old stuffy scientist keep me from my cookie dough! Don't let them stop you either :)

  19. Mmmmm!! These cookies look wonderful. I agree, I also like the hit of tart when it comes to something sweet. It's a great way to give the plate a little jolt. I am going to try something like this... very interesting idea with the ricotta. :)

  20. Wow, these look incredible! I'm no crazy about lemon, but these look so soft & yummy that I'd be willing to give it a shot.

  21. I think that its true that when Life Gives You Lemons its really great especially when you use it in making Lemon Ricotta Cookies. I am really excited to have its recipe. I think that it would be great to baked those cookies at home.