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Recipe: pailin’s ginger lemon cookies

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Remember the batch of candied lemon peels that I bricked the other day? I successfully made a batch yesterday morning. Then I went into town to pick up some gifts for Jeremy’s administrative staff at a local cook/gourmet shop and what did I see? Candied lemon peel… for $3.25. Huh. Had I known they stocked this, I would not have gone to the trouble of making my own. Since I didn’t know, I tossed my head back and walked off feeling superior because I *did* make my own. But really, I was kicking myself on the inside.

made my own damn candied lemon peels

I needed candied lemon peels for this great recipe that my friend, Pailin, had given me years ago. Pailin is Thai, a chef in California, and a sweetheart. When Pailin and Wayne visited us in Pasadena, they brought whole bags full of fresh herbs and vegetables from their amazing garden and a couple of bags of cookies that she had made. I noshed on those cookies for many days and when they were gone, I felt as if something was missing from my life. I emailed for the recipe and Pailin happily obliged. They used to live in the small town of Independence, California – gateway to the Eastern Sierra. She was *famous* for her baking.

crystallized ginger

I realized the reason I loved the cookies so much was because of the candied ginger. I used to hate ginger. My mom loves the stuff and she cooked with it often. The biggest gripe that Kris and I had growing up was how Mom wouldn’t chop the ginger into chunks large enough to remove. No – she sliced it so it looked just like bamboo shoots or something else we willingly ate, and then we’d bite into the little stealth ginger slice and wince and spit it out. Maybe it requires maturity of taste buds to appreciate it, but today I’ll eat ginger in just about any dish: sweet, savory, raw, cooked, candied, pickled… I always have fresh ginger root on my counter, right next to the garlic.

chopped ginger, chopped candied lemon peel, grated fresh lemon peel

I have shied away from cookies since we moved to our present elevation. The leavenings are a bitch to puzzle out. That’s frustrating for someone like me, who used to crank out 6 dozen cookies after work with my hands tied behind my back. I had the right temperature and times dialed in for the perfect texture, baby. It was my thang. Then we came here and the cookies came to represent failure after so many years of perfection, much like graduate school – and I was like “who needs that?! pffffffttttt!” But I believe knowledge can overcome fear and I figured out that cookies without leavening are relatively stable to deal with. So when I dug around for a cookie recipe, Pailin’s ginger lemon cookies were perfect.

lemon juice for a little tang

add the goodies

It’s a buttery dough that requires chilling. I definitely cut the slices too large because they spread a lot more than I had anticipated.

slice and bake

lay the dough down with more spacing than this

The flavor is nice and light. I might try upping the amount of crystallized ginger and perhaps a little more lemon juice. Since I used my own candied lemon peel, which is drier than the store-bought stuff, I am wondering if perhaps the texture would be slightly chewier/softer with that gooey candied lemon peel?

waiting for a cup of tea

Pailin’s Ginger Lemon Cookies
[print recipe]

16 oz. (2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar (or 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar – more stable at elevation)
2 lemons’ freshly grated zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut (oh, I omitted this because I didn’t have any)
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped (use as much of this as you like)
1/2 cup candied lemon peel (use as much of this as you like)

Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add flour and salt and mix until well blended. Finally stir in the coconut, ginger, and lemon peel. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and shape into a log (or whatever shape you want) and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove from refrigerator and slice the dough about 1/4 inch thick. Set on baking sheet with enough space for spreading. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

lemon heaven cake lemon mousse bombes lemon poppy seed cake lemon tart

19 nibbles at “gingerly”

  1. Melissa says:

    These sound really delicious! I love ginger.

  2. linda says:

    They sound absolutely delicious! Very good to overcome the altitude problem with baking, there are plenty of recipes without leaveners around. Have bookmarked this recipe, will definitely make it!

  3. peabody says:

    Ya know, for some odd reason I have candied lemon peel, I just might make these.

  4. Hannah says:

    What a tasty combination! It sounds like there are some great flavors going on in those little cookies.

  5. Graeme says:

    They have those crumbly, delicate edges that when you see, you know you’ve done good.

  6. Hillary says:

    Those turned out so beautifully! Great recipe!

  7. StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says:

    These cookies look really beautiful! I love the lemon/ginger combination, in a buttery shortbread, no less! How do you make your candied lemon peel? It looks so pretty. I think I might have trouble finding that. I’ve never come across it in the stores here.

  8. Kevin says:

    The flavours in these sound really interesting!

  9. jenyu says:

    Melissa – yup, if you like ginger, I am guessing this will be a hit with you!

    linda – great! I hope you like them.

    peabody – for some odd reason? lady, you bake almost DAILY, I cannot imagine what you DON’T have in your kitchen ;)

    Hannah – I quite like the combo and I never would have thought of it myself!

    Graeme – ha ha ha, you crack me up! “you’ve done good” means you have an ass ton of butter in the dough ;)

    Hillary – thank you!

    SGCC – Oh, I made my own lemon peel and hated it. The first batch tanked because the sugar crystallized and the whole thing bricked. The second batch was much better, but… it’s not as soft and chewy as the store-bought lemon peel. I candied them the same way I candy my candied orange peels (you can find that recipe under the recipes link at the top of my blog). I think another name for candied lemon peel is citron? I’m sure you guys have it in FL!

    Kevin – does that mean interesting as in, “I’m gonna try this” or interesting as in “huh”? ;)

  10. tawnia says:

    I made these yesterday and they are wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, I brought them all to work or I would have eaten far too many. I also made my own candied lemon and thought how awesome they would be made with lime and ginger. I might have to try the lime version this weekend.

  11. jenyu says:

    Tawnia – yay! I’m so glad. I love these cookies and they seem to be a big hit with everyone who tries them. My friend will be so happy to know :)

  12. tawnia says:

    Hi again Jen–ok–did the lime version and OMG!! Tell Pailin she is a freaking cookie genius! Oh and these are on the list for my son’s graduation–can’t wait for the raves. The biggest issue I have is leaving them alone–they do not survive in my presence.

  13. jenyu says:

    tawnia – terrific, and I’ll have to keep lime in mind (actually I love lime and ginger together – so it’s a no brainer!)

  14. Carly says:

    Hi, I was wondering, how many cookies does this make (and of course, how thick did you slice those pieces before baking :D)

  15. jenyu says:

    Carly – it makes about 3-4 dozen depending on the slicing. I sliced them to about 1/4 inch thickness.

  16. Adelina says:

    I tried this recipe over the weekend and it was great! The cookies came out quite beautiful, with an intense flavor of butter and lemon! I probably will add more crystalized ginger and lemon zest if I do this the next time. I love ginger and lemon! I could not find candied lemon peel at any of my local grocery stores so that was a bit of a disappointment. I might follow your footstep and make some my own, one of these blue moon days!

    Thanks for sharing and tell your friend this is a great combo for such a refreshing cookie!

  17. jenyu says:

    Adelina – you’re so welcome! I love this cookie too. It surprises me how many people love it considering it has no chocolate. But I think they are addictive :)

  18. Ginger Lime Cookies « Nombudsman says:

    […] Lime Cookies (adapted from recipe here) 1 c unsalted butter, softened 1/2 c sugar Lime zest from about 1 1/2 limes 1 tbsp lime juice 1/2 […]

  19. Alyse says:

    I made the cookie’s lemon ingredients: candied, juice, and the zest with Meyer Lemons.
    I was so happy to see them back in the market, that I wanted to use them in the recipe.
    The dough is in the refrigerator, and I am happy.

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