I started a batch of preserved lemons about three months ago and it is finally ready to go. I followed Einat Admony’s recipe from her book, Balaboosta. One thing that made her recipe different from the rest of the preserved lemon recipes I have looked at was the addition of sugar. This gave the preserve a lemonade-like aroma and a sweetness that added a nice balance to a traditionally salty ingredient.
Quick personal background: I work at one of Einat’s restaurants so I’m very familiar with the versatility these preserved lemons. We use the preserving liquid and the lemon peels in many of the recipes. However, I really wanted to try it in a pastry because I thought the citrusy, sweet and salty elements will play well with a dessert. The simplest proof of concept I thought of was to make a cookie.
This cookie is soft and cake-like, almost like a financier.
Preserved Lemon Cookies
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g 10x (confectioners) sugar
15g perserved lemon zest, all white pith removed and minced very fine
1/2 zest of one fresh lemon, microplaned
5 egg yolks, at room temperature
125g cake flour, sifted
– Preheat oven to 350°F
– Combine butter and 10x sugar, and mix in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until light and airy, scraping down the sides of the mixer as necessary
– Add the zest of both the preserved lemon and the fresh lemon and mix until fully incorporated
– Add egg yolks slowly and mix until fully incorporated
– Finally add the sifted cake flour and continue mixing, starting on slow so the flour does not end up all over your counter. Mix until fully incorporated
– Transfer dough to a pastry bag and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. The dough should have the consistency of softened butter
– Pipe dough onto a sheet tray lined with parchment or a silicone mat to the desired size and shape (the ones in the picture were about 1 inch rounds)
– Bake for about 7 minutes or until the edges of the cookie start to brown. Rotate the tray halfway through baking to ensure the cookies bake evenly throughout
– Transfer to a rack to cool
The preserved lemon peel provided a savory note that fresh lemon zest could not. Conversely, the fresh lemon zest added the clean lemon flavor that can be lost in preserved lemons. All in all, there was a good balance. There was some bitterness from the preserved lemon peel that was not unpleasant but didn’t lend anything positive to the cookie.
The cookie was, for all intents and purposes, merely a sweetened vessel to bring the lemon to my mouth and little initial thought was put into it. In retrospect, a harder, snappier sugar cookie would be better.
Additionally, a lavender glaze on the top may add a bit of class to it. This may also go well as a palate cleanser alongside an espresso ice cream or panna cotta.
Preserved lemon in desserts deserves more exploration.