A Little Sweet, A Little Savory: Lemon-Ginger Tea Cookies

When my Bloggy-Buddy Megan asked awhile back if I would mind writing a guest post for her, I was quick to agree.  I get so much support and inspiration from Megan, that there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for her.  Best of all (for me) was she didn’t have a deadline!  Love that!  See, Megan was kind of bored with her own food-stuffs, and wanted to feature something a little different on her blog.  The Food Blogger part of me can totally relate to that feeling.  I zipped off an email with all of the recipes that were in my queue waiting for me to actually write about them.  Megan chose the Lemon-Ginger Tea Cookies.  A fine choice!  (I’ve also linked this post to Joy of Desserts.)

Lemon-Ginger Tea Cookies came about way back in my New Bride days.  I was working on a very stressful project at work, and I would often come home and bake to relieve the stress.  Did I mention it was a stressful project? Because I was baking nearly everyday.  Moderation and I have not met.

When I couldn’t bribe any more friends, neighbors, or co-workers to take anymore of my cookies, I decided to bake something for Hubby to take to work.  Hubby was working for a foreign government office as a consultant. His diplomat bosses had tastes that differed from the US norm with regard to dessert. They much preferred lightly sweet things with a hint of savory flavors and a good texture.

Now I knew American style baking, but the savory element was throwing me for a loop at the time.  Naturally, I wanted to bake something that the diplomats would enjoy, but I wasn’t quite sure where to begin.  I also didn’t want Hubby to lose face in the office if I sent in something horrible. Oh, and presentation was a factor–whatever I made had to be pretty.

So much for baking to relieve stress.

I decided that simplicity was the best approach, and essentially made a shortbread-like cookie with less sugar, and added a lot of lemon and ginger to balance out the sweetness.  The resulting cookie was simple, lightly sweet, and practically melted in your mouth, all of which took care of the flavor and texture requirements.  For the presentation requirement, I stacked the cookies into little cellophane cookie bags, and tied them with a ribbon.  Hubby left for work the following morning with a box full of cookies that I hoped his bosses would enjoy.

Guess what? The diplomats loved them! I think you will, too.

All you need to make the cookies is unsalted butter, brown sugar (yes, really!), an egg, a lemon, all-purpose flour, salt, and ground ginger.  Oh, and a little more softened butter and a bit of granulated sugar to form the cookies before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F) and line a couple of baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

Zest a lemon until you get 1 tablespoon of zest. My lemons were on the small side, so I had to zest two of them to get enough.  Slice one of the lemons in half, and squeeze out a tablespoon of juice.

Food-Dork Tip:  Did you know that you get more zest from a cold lemon, but more juice from a room temperature lemon?  In order to maximize my efforts, whenever I need zest and juice for a recipe, I zest the lemon fresh out of the ‘fridge, then I let it warm up on the counter before juicing it.  The same rules apply for all citrus fruit.

Cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Then add an egg, mixing until just incorporated.

Add the lemon zest and juice to the bowl, and stir to combine.

I’m not going to lie–the mixture will look like a hot mess after adding the lemon components.  No worries! It’ll be fine after you mix in the salt, ground ginger, and flour.  The dough will come together and you’ll be able to breathe easy.

Pinch off a enough dough (or use a small scoop) to form 1 1/2 inch balls.  Set the dough balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Smear a tiny amount of softened butter on the bottom of a large drinking glass.

Pour some granulated sugar on to a plate, and dip the buttered bottom on the glass into the sugar.  Give the glass a little twist to ensure it is well coated with sugar.  Lick the glass. Repeat.

Only kidding about the licking part! Kind of.

Press the sugared glass onto the dough balls to flatten.  Re-butter and sugar the glass as needed to keep the dough from sticking.  Continue the process until all of the dough balls have been flattened.  Bake at 350 degrees for 6 to 9 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are a light golden brown, and the centers are set.  Cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve the cookies alongside a steamy cup of chai tea for a peaceful moment of tranquility.  It’s better than Calgon!

Lemon-Ginger Tea Cookies


Makes 24-28 Cookies

½ C. unsalted butter, softened

½ C. packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbs. lemon zest

1 tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. salt

2 C. all-purpose flour

For tops of cookies:

1 tsp. softened unsalted butter

¼ C. granulated sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
  2. In the large bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg, and mix fully until incorporated.
  4. Sprinkle in the powdered ginger and salt, stirring until just blended.
  5. Add the fresh lemon juice and the lemon zest, and mix well.  (The mixture will appear clumped and curdled, but it will all come together in the end.)
  6. Dump in the flour, and stir until dough just comes together.
  7. Use a small cookie scoop to portion rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, apart 2 inches apart.
  8. Rub a small amount of butter onto the bottom of a flat drinking glass. Dip the buttered glass into granulated sugar and give it a twist, ensuring that the bottom of the glass is well coated with the sugar.
  9. Use the sugared glass to compress a ball of cookie dough into thin (1/8-1/4 inch thick) cookies.
  10. Continue dipping the bottom of the glass in the granulated sugar and compressing the cookies, adding more butter to the glass, as necessary.
  11. Bake the compressed cookies in the preheated oven for 6-9 minutes, or until the edges are a light golden brown.
  12. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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  1. says

    You have a wonderful tried and true recipe here. The extra touch of lemon and ginger makes all the difference in the world. Thank you for sharing at Joy of Desserts. (Please don’t forget to link back to your hostesses. :-) Thanks. )

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