This is a kind of austere cookie. Rather like shortbread, it has a bit of crunch, is relatively light on the sugar, and is fully saturated with the comforting flavor of butter. The zest and ginger add minor, but delicious flavor tones. The particular cookie cutters I used were heavy on the edges, so my cookies were on the crispy side. It didn’t matter too much though, since no one can resist finding their letter in a pile of alphabet cookies. If you’d like a softer bite, cut into more traditional rounder shapes and watch for the edges of the cookie to set while the center is still soft.
These can easily become regular butter cookies, simply change out the brown sugar for regular. If you don’t want to roll them out, roll the dough into three logs, wrap tightly in plastic, chill, and then slice off 1/4″ thick coins and place on the prepared cookie sheet.
2 sticks room temperature butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
1 teaspoon finely diced ginger (optional)
1 room temperature egg
2 teaspoons milk
2 1/2 cups flour
Cream the butter with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, and then add the sugar. Beat until everything is fluffy and light. Then add the vanilla, salt, zest, ginger, egg, and milk. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour until the cookie dough is just combined.
Separate the dough into two discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare two cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Then take one disc out of the fridge, let it sit out to soften slightly and then begin rolling out on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick, and cut out your shapes, re-rolling the dough as you go.
Place the cookies one or two inches apart on the baking sheet and bake, just until the cookies are set, 8-10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for two minutes and then remove to a rack to cool twenty minutes longer.