Last week I made cookies.
I don’t mean I made a batch of cookies last week, or two, or even three. I mean that last week, aside from the hours spent at the local food bank, all I did was bake cookies. Cookies to give to friends here, cookies for Mr. Blackbird’s lab, cookies to ship across the country. And still I’m not done. I have about three batches to send to Texas after Christmas, a few to bake today to bring to Florida, and I really should bake a batch for the lovely friend who’s feeding the cats while we’re gone.
If I’ve ever said that there’s no such thing as too many cookies, I take it back. I’m not going to want to see another cookie until after Passover. Or at least tomorrow when I get bored and hungry during the twelve-hour drive home.
These cookies are adapted from Perfect Light Desserts by Nick Malgieri, which is bizarre for several reasons. First of all, I don’t own this cookbook. I don’t own any specifically healthy cookbooks. Secondly, long ago I had a copy of Cookies Unlimited by the same author, and I swear not a single recipe that I tried from that book came out well. But a year or so ago, a friend on a low-cholesterol diet asked if I could make healthy lemon cookies. I said no (cookies aren’t healthy, guys) but that I would try to find a recipe that wasn’t quite as guilt-inducing as most. This one has half the butter of your average cookie recipe, and uses only the white of the egg.
Don’t let that scare you off, though. These cookies are amazing. They’re moderately lemony, about two steps above lemon pound cake but still well below lemon bars. If you want to kick up the lemon flavor, a simple glaze of lemon juice, cream cheese, and powdered sugar would go nicely, or you could just brush the tops with a little lemon juice when they come out of the oven. Their texture is spongy enough to absorb it.
Best of all, they put an assertive citrus flavor (the most virtuous of all dessert flavors) into a cookie form. This means that I could ship them to my lemon-addicted friend in Dallas without the hassle of shipping lemon bars or lime pie or any other nonsense that requires chilling.
Ingredients (makes about 24 cookies)
4 T unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg white
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest of one lemon (optional)
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together.
Add the egg white, lemon juice, and zest if using and mix well.
Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Fold the batter just until it comes together.
Drop batter in scant tablespoons onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will be very pale, especially if you ran out of fresh lemons before baking and therefore didn’t use any lemon zest.