January 10, 2020
Makes about 16 -24 cookies, depending on size
These cookies have been on my "to bake" list for years. What possessed me to wait this long? WHAT??? Back in 2012, the New York Times published a piece called, "Thanks for the Holiday Desserts." Readers sent in their favorite recipes and the Times tested them out and chose their favorites. This was one of the winners. It was submitted by Jessica Hulett and is her Grandma Dorie's recipe. Thank you, Jessica, and thank you, grandma. When I read that they resemble the white part of a black and white cookie, I was hooked. (If you know me, you know I LOVE black and white cookies). Tender, cakey, and highly addictive. I made just a few small changes. I also halved the recipe because I didn't want dozens of cookies laying around. Don't be afraid to change the flavor profile either. Omit the lemon altogether and make it all about vanilla, or use anise or orange extract. The possibilities are endless!
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), room temp
212 grams sugar, about 1 cup
7 1/2 ounces ricotta, preferably good quality (if there's a lot of liquid in the container, make sure to strain it)
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg, room temp
240 grams all-purpose flour, about 2 cups
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 cups confectioner's sugar
pinch sea salt or fine salt (not Kosher b/c you want the glaze to be very smooth)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons milk, as needed
Sprinkles of your choice
Line a sheet tray with parchment paper.
Put the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl, whisk, and set aside.
Add the sugar and lemon zest to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed for a few minutes. This is a little trick I learned, and it helps the lemon zest flavor to incorporate into the sugar more than if you just added it to the mix later on. Add the butter and continue to mix on medium speed for a few minutes, until the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again. It's crucial to have everything mixed super well at this stage before you start to add your other ingredients.
Next, add the ricotta and vanilla and mix to combine. Add your egg, mix, scrape, and mix again.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed, just until the flour disappears. You don't want to over mix at this point because then the cookie might be dense and tough.
Scoop the cookies with a purple scoop (3/4 ounce) or red scoop (1 1/3 ounce). Go here to see what I'm talking about. Cookie/Ice cream scoops are the best! If you don't have any scoops, do not fret. You can portion the dough into heaping tablespoons. Fill the cookie sheet with the dough balls, they can be close together or even touching at this point because you will put the whole tray into the fridge for at least two hours or even better, overnight. One of the reasons we do this is to help the cookies keep their shape. If they are baked when warm or room temp, they may spread too thin. I chilled them for two hours and my cookies didn't spread.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 °F and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or Silpats™.
Remove the tray of chilled dough balls from the fridge and line them up, about 2 inches apart on one of your prepared trays. I usually get 11 cookies on a tray at a time, 4 on each side and three in the middle. Put the other dough back in the fridge while your first tray bakes. Bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes if using the purple scoop or heaping tablespoon, or 12-15 minutes if using the larger red scoop (that's my favorite cookie size). Oven temps may vary so you might want to check a minute or two before my suggestion. You don't want the top of the cookie to take on much color at all, and the bottoms should turn light brown. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before icing. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.
Make the glaze!!!
Melt the tablespoon of butter. Whisk together the confectioner's sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and lemon juice and mix. You will see that it needs more liquid and that is when you start to add your milk, just a drizzle at a time. A little goes a long way here.
You want the glaze to be thick enough that it stays on the cookie and not so thin that it drips off and barely adheres. Also, you can adjust it to make it how YOU like it. If you go too far with the milk, add more sugar to thicken it up. I use my small offset spatula to ice them. Use a knife if that's all you have.
OH, and sprinkle these nonpareils on top right away, before the glaze has a chance to set.
Let the cookies sit for about 20 minutes before serving so the glaze can set or eat one or two immediately, like I did. I repeat, these are highly addictive!! I won't tell you how many I ate but it was more than three.