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Limoncello Thumbprint Cookies

When Allison Arevalo, blogger at Local Lemons, was faced with a surplus of California lemons, she decided to make homemade limoncello, the popular and refreshing Italian liqueur. And what's one to do when faced with bottles upon bottles of delicious limoncello? Make crumbly, buttery thumbprint cookies, of course! If you like lemon-flavored desserts, these cookies should be on your to-do list. They're a simple mix-and-bake recipe.

Recipe Notes: Allison makes her own limoncello and gives directions on the blog. Do note that it has to set for 1 to 2 months, so you'll need to plan for that if you're thinking of making homemade limoncello for the cookies. You can certainly use a store-bought version or make the cookies without it at all, relying on a basic recipe for lemon curd instead. They'll be equally delicious.

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Ingredients

Lemon Curd

3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2/3 cup limoncello

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

Thumbprint Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup organic cane sugar

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powered sugar

Directions

1. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the eggs and yolks. Beat for 1 minute. Mix in the limoncello. The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks.

2. In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until it looks smooth. (The curdled appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts.) Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. It should leave a path on the back of a spoon and will read 170 degrees on a thermometer. Don't let the mixture boil.

3. Remove the curd from the heat; stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming and chill in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.

4. Meanwhile, make the cookies: Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, and using the paddle attachment on medium speed, cream for about 3 to 5 minutes.

5. Add the vanilla and continue beating. Reduce the mixer to a low speed and add lemon zest. Slowly add flour until incorporated.

6. Take a tablespoon of dough at a time and roll it into a ball. Place on a foiled baking sheet, and using your pinkie, press down on the middle of the ball to form an indent. Place cookies at least 2 inches apart on sheet.

7. Bake for 14 minutes on the middle rack. If the middles rose during baking, gently press them back down with your pinkie. Allow cookies to cool once finished baking.

8. Once cool, fill each one with a small spoonful of lemon curd. Don't worry if they don't look perfect, I actually like them better that way, with curd spilling over the edges. Sprinkle powered sugar on top. Store in the fridge.

Makes 30 cookies

Lemon curd adapted from Fine Cooking

Thumbprint cookies adapted from Joy the Baker's Honey Roasted Peanut Thumbprint Cookies

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