30 June 2012

High Tea Lemon Cookies

I do enjoy cooking British food, but it's extra special when I get to share it with others. This week I had the immense pleasure of taking part in a delightful bridal reception that doubled as an afternoon tea! We guests had so much fun dressing up and baking loads of goodies, then brewing pots of tea and chatting away the hours. What better way to celebrate love than with good food and good friends?

The menu was decadent: cucumber and egg salad sandwiches, fresh fruit, pound cake, lemon curd, mini scones, clotted cream, homemade jam, chocolate-dipped strawberries...it was heavenly and I ate way too much. I brought two tea treats, a flourless chocolate torte (look for that recipe next week!) and high tea lemon cookies, both of which went over marvelously. 

The delicate little cookies were absolutely bursting with lemony goodness! They are cornstarch cookies (Brits may know them better as cornflour cookies), and have a 1-1 ratio of flour to butter, if that gives you some idea of their otherworldly qualities. I found the recipe on whatscookingamerica.net from a self-described expert on afternoon tea, and I saw nothing but glowing comments about  these cookies--words like "heavenly" and "absolute favorite" were being bandied about, so I had to try them. After the tea party I had several wide-eyed ladies clamoring for the recipe, so, without further ado, I will share it with all of my fellow Britophiles: 

High Tea Lemon Cookies
Yields 6 dozen cookies [if you make them very tiny, I only made 45]

  • 2 cups butter, room temperature [absolutely not softened or melted!]
  • 2/3 cup powdered [confectioners'] sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cornstarch [no, this isn't a typo]

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy looking. Add powdered sugar; mix until light and fluffy. Add lemon zest and vanilla extract; beat well. Add flour and cornstarch into butter mixture and mix well until well combined. 
NOTE: At first the dough will look dry - but don't worry, as the dough slowly comes together as you mix it and the butter melts into the dry ingredients. Do not refrigerate this dough, as the butter will harden and make the dough unmanageable for rolling to a ball.
The unsuspecting victims....
3. Using your hands, roll cookie dough into 1-inch balls [I used a cookie baller]. Place onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake 15 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Remove from oven, carefully remove from baking sheet, and cool on wire cooling racks [when warm the cookies are delicate].

That's my dear mother doing the dipping!

Lemon Frosting

  • 1/6 cup butter, room temperature 
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/6 to 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups powdered (confectioners') sugar

1. In a medium bowl, combine butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and powdered sugar; stir until well mixed.

2. Thin the frosting with additional lemon juice if needed, then dip the tops of the cookies into it.

The little bits of zest in the frosting add just the right touch!
As I said, these little beauties were a triumph, and just perfect with a piping hot cup of tea! I hope that you will all have the opportunity to make them for yourselves.

Do you have a favorite tea treat? Sweet or savory?   


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