Lately, my family coined a new name for me—”the Replicator.” My mother and I were Christmas shopping in Nordstrom’s and she stopped into the store’s café for a snack. To no surprise, she chose a lemon ricotta cookie with a lemony icing. I tasted it, and I had to admit they were pretty good (although my mom is much more obsessed with lemony desserts than I am). Just a few days later, the homemade version of those cookies appeared before her own eyes in our very own kitchen. Viola, replication at its finest.
People ask me all the time, “What do you cook?” And as many times as I’ve been asked that same question, I still don’t have a perfect answer. I love trying new recipes and making them my own. I also love to revisit family recipes and recreate them or upgrade them into something even better. At some point, I’m sure I will develop a niche of some sort, but for now I enjoy the ‘test kitchen’ method while I am still learning new recipes and techniques everyday. This is the most empowering part about being in the kitchen. Every dish is a challenge whether it’s an old or new recipe. And the challenge is always accepted. If it’s something I don’t know how to make, I’ll learn. And, if it turns out horribly . . . then I’ll just try it again later with a new mindset and a new technique. Julia Child once said, “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” No truer words have ever been spoken. [short inspiring plug: Take out the word “cooking” and insert whatever goal you’re working towards, whether it’s career related or just a hobby. Set your own boundaries. Create your own successes and define your own “failures.”]
Back to the cookies. These cookies are very “cakey,” they even rise a little in the oven creating a soft and fluffy texture. And, of course, super lemony. If you’re in a last minute gift giving bind, place them in a cookie box and tie a bow around them. They present well and work perfectly as a gift. Don’t worry, you won’t have to give away too many, as the recipe makes two dozen at the very least. So there will be plenty left for you.
“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” — Julia Child
Lemon Ricotta Cookies
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (plus 1 additional stick for frosting)
- 2 cups cane sugar
- 2 cups ricotta cheese (about 16 ounces)
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (plus 3 tablespoons for frosting)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus 1 cup for shaping cookies)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups confectioner's sugar
- Step 1 Heat oven to 375 degrees. Using an electric hand mixer, cream 2 sticks butter with sugar for about 2 minutes. Add ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Continue mixing until fully incorporate. Beat in eggs and scrape down the sides of the bowl to get all of the batter debris. Add flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Step 2 Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using the fourth cup of flour, lightly sprinkle some flour into the bowl of batter creating a thin top layer, and coat hands with some flour (this will prevent the dough from sticking completely to your hands as you form the cookie rounds). Using your hands, take about 1 heaping tablespoon of dough at a time and form flattened dough rounds. Place at least an inch apart on baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes, or until edges turn a light golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.
- Step 3 Make the Frosting: using the electric mixer, cream 1 stick of slightly softened butter and confectioner’s sugar. Add lemon juice and mix until fully incorporated. Let cookies cool for at least 15 minutes before icing. Garnish with fresh lemon zest.
Recipe adapted from Grandma Dorie’s Italian Ricotta Cookies