David Lebovitz's lemon quaresimali cookies
Yesterday afternoon, I decided to invite some friends over for dinner. One of them asked if he could bring dessert, and since I had a complicated day, I was thrilled to say yes.
I didn’t know what it would be, but yes, Rob showed up bearing biscotti. Not just any biscotti, but the lemon quaresimali cookies from David Lebovitz’s “Ready for Dessert,” a compilation of the Paris-based pastry chef’s best recipes. I’d had them at Rob’s house a month or so before and loved them. (I also highly recommend the book.)
This time, he’d made them with lemon and bergamot (the citrus that scents Earl Grey tea) from his garden. Wow, that little bit of highly fragrant citrus took these twice-baked cookies that one little step beyond. I don’t even want to know how many I ate last night. There were just these three left this morning.
Lebovitz writes “these cookies are like supersized biscotti, but, unlike biscotti, they’ve never gained wide acceptance outside their native Italy, probably because their name is a bit more of a challenge to pronounce. Thankfully, they’re just as easy to make, and every bit as good."
From David Lebovitz's "Ready for Dessert"
Makes about 50 cookies:
1-3/4 cups (245 g) all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg for glazing
1-1/3 cups (265 g) sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 2 lemons, preferably organic
1-1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup (250 g) almonds, toasted
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the flour mixture and stir until well blended, then mix in the almonds.
Divide the dough in half and place each half on a prepared baking sheet. Using dampened hands, shape each half into a 13 by 2-1/2 inch log.
In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg. Generously brush the logs with egg wash, then give the logs a second coat.
Bake, rotating the baking sheets midway during the baking, until the logs are firm and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. (They will flatten out during baking.)
Remove the baking sheets from the oven and decrease the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Let the logs cool on the baking sheets for 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer the logs to a cutting board. With a serrated bread knife, slice each log crosswise into 1-inch bars. Place the cookies, cut sides up, in a single layer on the baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.
-- S. Irene Virbila
Photos: Lemon quaresimali cookies. Credit: S. Irene Virbila/Los Angeles Times.