I was in Devon yesterday. The lanes were speckled with primroses and two-day-old lambs wobbled on unsteady legs in the fields. Back in London, the trees are dusted with blossom and the fat buds on our magnolia are just ready to burst into pale pink, starry blooms. My God, it’s spring.
On my kitchen counter, I have a bowl of beautiful lemons. I wanted to make something as sharp and fresh and sweet as the season. These thumbprint cookies fit the bill – perfect for a CSI convention, or just for a solitary treat, sitting in the chilly sunshine with a cup of tea.
Lemon thumbprint cookies
If I don’t have a jar of my own lemon curd, I use Duchy Originals – so deliciously, exquisitely lemony, it’s almost enough to make me into a monarchist.
Makes about 36
225g unsalted butter, room temperature
225g caster sugar or vanilla sugar
2 egg yolks
Finely grated zest from 3 medium-sized, unwaxed lemons
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
280g plain flour
6 tbsps lemon curd
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Line a couple of baking trays with baking parchment. Beat the butter and sugar together in large bowl until light and fluffy then beat in the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt. Next, beat in the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add half of the flour and stir in gently, then add the rest of the flour until it forms large pieces – be careful not to over work it or the cookies will be tough. Gather dough together gently with your hands until you have a smooth ball.
Chill the dough for 15 minutes in the fridge then roll it into 2.5cm balls. Place the balls on the baking sheets, about 2.5cm apart as they’ll spread a bit. Use your thumb to create deep little wells in centre of each ball. Bake the cookies until they're firm to the touch and slightly golden on the bottom, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven then immediately fill each little well with a bit of lemon curd. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and cool completely.
This is quite a sticky dough, so it’s easier to make the little wells in the cookies if you dip your thumb into a glass of water first.