lemon and poppy seed rice cookies

The rain and wind are pounding on the windows and it's a bit crazy outside. Though, hurricane Sandy might have extended the weekend by two days, sitting at home and preparing for the worst possible scenario is a bit stressful. Walking the dog out in the rain was no fun either, he wasn't ready to budge and I honestly just wanted to be indoors. Over time, I've realized that you just need to make the best of any situation that life throws your way. For the most part, I have enjoyed the extra free time at home and made the most of it. So here I am sharing my "hurricane-coping cookies", this is what got me through the crazy moments of the hurricane. I hope the rest of you in the East coast are staying safe, warm, and dry!

You've probably eaten lemon and poppy seed cookies before but these rice flour based cookies are very different. The cookies are much more delicate and crumble easily making them a perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee. I used stone ground rice flour which has a slight grainy texture but you are welcome to use a finer grade of rice flour if you prefer. I can't stress enough on the importance of using fresh lemons here, they make a big difference to the flavor of the cookies. For that matter, everything around you in the kitchen will also smell wonderfully citrusy when you work with the lemons. These cookies are also great for those on a gluten-free diet due to health reasons. As always, chill the dough for at least 2 hours (overnight is even better) for a crisp cookie. The cookies should be white when completely baked. The crushed pistachios are optional and I love the contrast of the green salted nuts with the white rice cookies. Salted pistachios are also easier to find than the plain variety and they also give a wonderful flavor. 

lemon and poppy seed rice cookies

yield: about 45 cookies 


4 cups rice flour
4 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 tablespoons poppy seeds
3 tablespoons crushed salted pistachios (optional)

1. Dissolve the sugar and water on a medium flame. Bring it to a boil and let it cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, add the lemon zest and lemon juice.  Keep aside.
2. Whisk the eggs yolks for 8 minutes with the paddle attachment of an electric stand mixer. The yolks will become light and fluffy.
3. With a whisk, mix the flour and salt together in a separate bowl.
4. Pour the cooled lemon-sugar syrup from step 1 into the yolks and continue whisking.
5. Now add the melted butter to the yolks and continue whisking till completely blended.
6. Mix in one cup of the flour at a time into the egg yolks until no trace of the flour can be seen. The batter will be soft. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before baking the cookies.
7. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line several clean baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out 1 teaspoon of the chilled dough. Keep the cookies about an inch apart from each other to prevent them from sticking. Flatten the surface of each of cookie dough with an offset spatula. Sprinkle a few poppy seeds and pistachios on the surface. Bake for 10 minutes till the cookies are dry on the surface but still white. Remove from the cookies carefully from the baking sheet and allow to cool to room temperature. Be careful while handling the cookies once they are out of the oven as they can crumble quickly. Store the cooled cookies in an air tight container, with each layer of cookies sandwiched with wax paper, to prevent any sticking.

Note: Dipping the offset spatula in water before touching the surface of each cookie before baking will prevent the dough from sticking to the spatula.