When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I’m kind of a scrooge. It’s certainly not my favorite holiday. But, if it gives me an excuse to make the buttermilk cookies that caught my eye in the January issue of Gourmet, hey, I’ll jump on the red-and-pink, chocolate-and-rose-covered bandwagon.
I was taken in by almost all the recipes in the Gourmet feature on Edna Lewis. And as I’ve mentioned before, I was really moved by her essay. The recipe for these buttermilk cookies was not one of Lewis’ original recipes, like the others in the feature. But I tucked away the recipe nonetheless.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos and the recipe.)
The recipe is really simple and quick and produces a soft, sticky dough. The supple mounds of dough then become puffed and slightly golden after a turn in the oven. At this point, the cookies are delightful. They have a tender texture in the middle that becomes crisper around the edges. And the buttermilk and lemon zest impart an interesting flavor to what could otherwise be a very basic cookie. The buttermilk glaze that gets draped across these cookies plays up the same flavors and makes a tasty and beautiful little round.
To Valentine’s Day these cookies up, I dusted them with red sprinkles immediately after spooning on the buttermilk glaze. And, on half the batch, I replaced the buttermilk glaze with melted chocolate, thinned out with a splash of buttermilk. What’s a Valentine’s Day treat without chocolate, after all?
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter 2 large baking sheets.
Whisk together flour, zest, baking soda, and salt.
Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in batches at low speed, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until smooth.
Drop level tablespoons of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are puffed and edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes per batch. Cool cookies on sheets 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks.
Whisk together all glaze ingredients and brush onto tops of warm cookies.
Let stand until cookies are completely cooled and glaze is set.