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Tis the season for Christmas baking.....

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I love, love, love lemon and these little bites of heaven -- Lemon Semolina Cookies (biscotti di limone e semolino) -- are infused with lemon juice, lemon zest and -- best of all -- limoncello. Ymmmmm. They're small and crunchy, not too sweet, and remind me of Italy. What could be better?

My poor old hand beaters nearly died in the making of these cookies, but I think it was a worthwhile sacrifice!

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That beater illustration should be shown with flames shooting out its overheated little engine.

Anyway, here's the back story, with the recipe to follow.

I really enjoy baking, but don't do it often because I'm constantly dieting and fear the temptation of fresh cookies in the house. However, since it's the holiday season, I decided I could justify a mass production of cookies to freeze so that I would have something tasty for the office cookie orgy, and to take to friends' holiday gatherings.

For months, I had wanted to try this recipe for lemon semolina cookies which Jerry posted on his blog way back in May, as part of the Sunday Slow Baking-and-blogging challenge. Now seemed an excellent time to try this delicious, lemony recipe. (Thank you, Jerry for the first photo above, which I pinched from your blog http://jdeq.typepad.com/ Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!)

They really are a nice size, not too big, crunchy and would go very well with coffee or tea, or as a light dessert (perhaps with limoncello!)

I do much more baking when I visit my family back in Alberta, because brothers, aunties and uncles and various others eat it up. And my mother, before her recent move to the seniors' home, loved to buy gadgets -- food processors, juicers, bread-makers, etc., which I make liberal use of when I'm there.

But in my own kitchen, I only have my loyal little Sunbeam hand-held beater, which is fine for beating eggs, whipping cream, even mixing cake batter. However, this thick cookie dough proved almost too much and the engine was running red-hot before I was finished. Clearly, it's time I went out and bought a food processor!

All that aside, this delicious recipe is drawn from Gina DePalma's popular Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen. Gina, a fellow Slow Traveler, is a master chef.

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Without further ado, here's the recipe:

Lemony Semolina Cookies
Source: Dolce Italiano by Gina De Palma
Makes 5 dozen cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup semolina
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
freshly grated zest and juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons limonccello
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk flour, semolina, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl.

Using KitchenAid (or similar -- perhaps not handheld beaters) cream together the butter, oil and 1 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and egg yolk, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Continue to add the lemon zest, juice, limoncello and vanilla, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl down.

Using low speed beat in the dry ingredients until a very soft dough is formed. Scrape out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten into a disc, wrap and chill for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets, line with baking parchment or line with a teflon sheet.

Break off teaspoon-sized bits of dough and roll them into balls about an inch in diameter. Roll each in a small bowl of sugar and place on the tray. Make sure to space them an inch apart as they'll spread.

Bake for 14-15 minutes until they've flattened out and are crinkly on top. Cool on the sheet for 2 minute and then use a spatula to transfer to a wire rack.


They're soft when warm, but become deliciously crisp after they've cooled!


Comments (12)

Oh my - they look so delicious!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, those look so goo. Great recipe! I also have Gina's book, so maybe I will try to bake something for the holidays too as my sister and her family will be visiting me and it would be cool to have something for them to snack on. Thanks for sharing.

sandrac:

Thanks, Leslie -- they are tasty little things!

Kathy, that sounds like a great holiday plan. I had to laugh yesterday at Palma's Christmas cookie post -- reindeer faces with pretzels for antlers and M+Ms for eyes.

I made these cookies for the very first time with the Sunday Slow Bakers and it was love at first bite! I like them so much that I have made them about four time since May and even made a batch using oranges since I had a bottle of orangecello.

The recipe must come with a caveat: they are highly addictive and so light that one or two or three are not enough!

I am very impressed with your photos! I love the way you arranged the cookies in the second photo! They do look delicious!

I know just what you mean with what happened to your beater. I took my blender to work to make a bunch of thick shakes. Halfway through, I started smelling this burning odor. It didn't even last until I finished making the shakes! I only have a hand beater too. It has always worked quite well for me. I would hate to kill it but have no room for a big food processor or a really nice mixer. Not even room for an ice cream machine. I wonder if you could mix them with your hands like they must have done many years ago before the invention of food processors or expensive mixers.

Time to get a Kitchen Aid!

sandrac:

Maria, you are so right -- they ARE addictive. Perhaps cuz they're small and light so you really don't feel like you're eating too much.

I love the idea of making orangecello cookies, brilliant!

Girasoli, I can't even imagine how hard cooking must have been in the days before electric mixers, beaters,etc. Can you imagine trying to whip cream by hand? Or churning butter?

Jerry, you're right -- I'll be watching for some good sales!

I have two hand mixers I should send you!
I use my Kitchen Aide almost every day for something! Your cookies are beautiful, and it is a great recipe!

sandrac:

Palma, you're so sweet! It seems that I had better break down and buy a Kitchen Aide!

Kim:

So glad you wrote about this recipe; I had forgotten about it. Becky's doing the holiday baking this year but I'm adding this one to her "to do" list. Thanks!

Kim:

Becky did make them - she baked a tray and stored the rest in the freezer - yum! Again, thanks for reminding me about them.

sandrac:

Hi Kim, good for Becky. When I was her age, I didn't much like cooking dull stuff like main courses. But I loved baking and these are delish.

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