It's been a rough couple of weeks, but now that I am almost recovered from a sinus infection, I am trying to get back into a routine. The house feels so different with Abbey gone; we hadn't even realized how much the "life of the house" she was until she was no longer here. It's very quiet around here now. One evening as I pulled into the garage after work, for a split second, I wondered why I didn't hear her barking, like she always did when she heard the garage door. For that split second, it's like I had forgotten that she was gone. My eyes trick me sometimes into thinking that I see her around the house. When it hits me that she's gone, it feels like my heart is breaking all over again. I know these instances will come from time to time, and that they'll get less frequent as time passes. But right now, the pain is still very raw. I miss her so much my heart hurts some days.
So in an effort to get into the holiday spirit a little more, I decided I wanted to bake Christmas cookies this year, something I haven't done in several years. After scouring recipes and cookbooks and holiday magazines, and making a list of a dozen different cookies, I scrapped the whole list and decided just to do my sugar cookies (which Che loves). I thought it would be more fun to really get into decorating them NICE this year, instead of slapping on some red and green food-colored icing and calling them good. But then I found this recipe on the Cooking Light board for Meyer lemon ricotta cookies and couldn't pass it up. My Meyer lemon tree is brimming with fruit, some of it starting to come ripe, plus it was a good excuse to buy dragees, which are so pretty and festive. I'm still planning to make sugar cookies, just not tonight.
First, let me say that you'd think silver dragees are last year's Nintendo Wii or something, they're so hard to find. And when you do find them, they'll cost you an arm and a leg. And you might have to fend off someone else for the last one on the shelf. I managed to find the silver ones at the third place I stopped in today, and grabbed the last jar off the shelf while another shopper was browsing the display. You snooze, you lose. And then I proceeded to pay $15 for the measly 3.3 ounce jar. Ouch. Didn't know how far they would go, so I picked up a jar of pastel-colored ones too, which are the ones I ended up using for the cookies because I am selfish and decided to hoard my silver ones in the event that I can never find them again.
Okay, onto the cookie. This is a wonderful, soft, cakey, lemony cookie. The icing is more like a thick, rich frosting than a glaze. Eating one of these cookies is like eating the top off a frosted lemony cupcake. YUM. And the recipe is huge - I got 55 cookies from one batch.
MEYER LEMON RICOTTA COOKIES
Makes 4 dozen
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract or 1 teaspoon lemon and/or tangerine baking oil
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest, freshly grated*
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
Decorating sugar, silver dragees (small silver balls), optional
*Meyer lemons are available mid-November through early spring in specialty food stores. You will need 2 to 3 medium-sized lemons. Regular lemons can be substituted.
Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine butter and sugar in bowl; cream together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, ricotta, lemon extract (or baking oil), zest and juice; blend well. Add 1 cup flour, baking powder and salt; blend to combine. Add remaining flour in two parts, blending to combine between each, until a dough forms. Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake until cookie edges are very light golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. Let cookies rest on baking sheet for a few minutes and transfer to wire cooling rack.
While cookies cool, prepare glaze by creaming together butter and sugar. Continue to mix, gradually adding juice until desired consistency. Decorate cooled cookies adding dragees or decorating sugar, if desired, before icing sets.
Recipe © 2007 Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.