Recipe Wednesday: Lemony cream cheese cookies

lemoncookieswhit.jpg
Whitney Ariss

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.

"Right around now is the time I start getting major spring fever, especially on a day like today when it literally feels like spring," says Ariss. But spring is still a month away (29 days, if you're counting) -- and Colorado's growing season won't peak until summer, which is why Ariss consoles her spring fever by turning to baking. "About all that you can get that's local in our stores right now is carrots, potatoes and greens, and the promise of local fruit still seems painfully far away, so to cure the spring fever, I bake," she says, adding that "nothing wakes up your senses from the cold of winter like some freshly grated lemon zest," a key ingredient in today's cookie recipe, which she shares on the next page.

"I love the depth of flavor the zest adds to the cookies, which get an extra punch of citrus-y goodness from the addition of lemon extract, and I also love baking with our Sierra Nevada cream cheese, which is fluffier and lighter than the stuff you find wrapped in foil but still has the rich, creamy taste you'd expect from a cream cheese," explains Ariss. The result? "Pretty cookies that bake up light, tender and cake-y."

See also: Recipe Wednesday: Gnocchi with tomato sauce and porcini mushrooms

Lemony Cream Cheese Cookies
(adapted from www.thekitchn.com/a-supersimple-cream-cheese-coo-134935)
Makes around 30 cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces, or 1 package cream cheese, preferably Sierra Nevada brand, softened
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp lemon extract (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter until very smooth (make sure both ingredients are soft). Gradually add sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Add zest, extracts and egg and beat to combine.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients. On low speed, add dry ingredients to the cookie dough and mix until just combined. Chill dough in refrigerator until it has a chance to firm up a little, about 30 minutes.
3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (or a silicone baking mat), and drop batter by the tablespoon. Use a very small ice cream scoop for uniform scoops or, if dropping with a spoon, smooth the edges of your scoops down with slightly wet fingers (so they don't stick to the dough).
4. Bake cookies for 11-12 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the cookies are set and the edges start to turn golden. Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

For more from Ariss, Pete, Barbara and Marczyk Fine Foods, visit the market website. And be sure to check out Pete's blog and Marczyk Fine Wines.


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