Citrus juice and zest go into the dough and glaze in these festive cookies. You can use lemon, lime, or orange with equally delicious results.

Martha Stewart Living, December 2017


Credit: Louise Hagger

Recipe Summary

1 hr 25 mins
4 hrs 35 mins
Makes about 3 dozen


Candied Citrus Zest


Instructions Checklist
  • Candied Citrus Zest: Remove zest from lemons and oranges with a vegetable peeler in long strips. With a paring knife, remove white pith from zest strips. With a very sharp knife, cut strips into a long, fine julienne. Place julienned zest in a small bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand 30 minutes; drain.

  • Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high. When sugar is completely dissolved, add julienned zest, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand overnight. Candied zest in syrup can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks. (Makes 3/4 cup.)

  • Glaze: Whisk together confectioners' sugar and citrus juice until smooth. Whisk in zest. Glaze can be stored at room temperature, with plastic wrap pressed directly on surface, up to 3 days; whisk before using. (Makes 2 cups.)

  • Cookies: Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Beat butter with sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add citrus zest; beat to combine. Add eggs and citrus juice; beat to combine. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, beating until just combined.

  • Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 3 disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days (or freeze up to 1 month).

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough about 1/8 inch thick. Use a 3-inch ornament cutter to cut out shapes; transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets. Reroll and cut remaining dough. Freeze 15 minutes. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.

  • Remove candied citrus zest from syrup; let drain on paper towels. Stir in a tiny amount of food coloring into glaze to achieve a very pale tint. Brush tops of cookies with glaze, then turn glaze-sides up on racks set over rimmed baking sheets to catch drips. Let stand 5 minutes before pressing zest strips into glaze. Let stand until completely set, about 1 hour. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container between sheets of parchment at room temperature up to 4 days.

Cook's Notes

Add decorative stripes by cutting very thin strips of candied lemon or orange zest and adhering them to the glaze, about five minutes after it's been applied. For more citrus flavor and an especially polished look, brush on a second layer of glaze once the first one is set.