Limonettas (Argentine Lemon Cookies with Chocolate and Almond)
A pinch of sea salt transports these bright and buttery biscuits right back to the beachside city of Mar del Plata.
Mar del Plata’s limonettas don’t get the love they deserve–forever outshined by their more popular cousins, the alfajor. A dip in dark chocolate and a handful of sliced almonds kicks the otherwise monochromatic lemon biscuit up a notch. A pinch of sea salt is unorthodox for the sugar-obsessed Argentinian but the kick of salinity creates the enhances the sweet citrus cream filling and transports this dessert right back to the seaside where it originated.
The key to this cookie’s delicate texture is incorporating the absolute minimum amount of flour necessary to bind the rest of the ingredients together. Avoid incorporating any excess by rolling the dough between two large sheets of parchment paper rather than on a floured surface.
For the cookies:
- ⅔ cups sugar
- 7 tbsp. softened unsalted butter
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 tbsp. honey
- 1½ tsp. tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 3 cups pastry flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1½ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
For filling and coating:
- 1 large egg white
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- ½ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (1 cups), melted and tempered*
- 1 cup (2½ oz) sliced almonds
- Make the cookies: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter,sugar, and honey on medium speed until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer down to low and add the egg yolks, one at a time, using a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the lemon zest, juice, and salt and continue mixing until fully incorporated, then remove the bowl from the mixer.
- Into the mixer bowl, sift the flour and baking powder. Using a silicone spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until a soft and crumbly dough begins to form. Turn the dough out onto a clean, unfloured work surface and continue gently working the dough with the palm of your hand, pressing it down and working into a flat disk. Divide into two pieces, form into 1-inch thick disks, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 and up to 24 hours.
- When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven (with one of its racks positioned in the center) to 350° F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Retrieve the 2 pieces of dough from the fridge and unwrap. Working with one disk at a time, place the dough between two large sheets of parchment or waxed paper or and roll to an even ⅛-inch thickness. Slide the sheet onto a baking sheet and refrigerate while you roll the second half of the dough. Chill until firm, 15–30 minutes.
- Retrieve the sheets of dough from the fridge, then using a 2-inch square cookie cutter, to punch out 44 cookies. Use a small offset spatula to transfer the cookies to the lined baking sheets spaced at least ½ inch apart. Bake the cookies one pan at a time, rotating the pan halfway through cooking, until pale golden and just beginning to brown at the edges, 6–8 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely to room temperature before filling.
- When ready to fill the cookies, return them to the baking sheet; invert half of them so the bottoms are facing up.
- Make the filling: In the cleaned and dried bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg white on medium speed until stiff peaks begin to form. Gradually add half of the powdered sugar, about one tablespoon at a time. Add the lemon juice and zest and continue slowly adding the remaining powdered sugar, using a silicone spatula to occasionally scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl, until a thick, firm cream has formed. Transfer the filling to a piping bag or a large zip-top freezer bag.
- Snip the tip of the piping bag (or one corner of the freezer bag), then squeeze about 1 tablespoon the lemon cream onto the inverted cookies, creating a square around the perimeter before filling in the center. Make sandwiches by topping these cream-topped cookies with their mates, gently squeezing them together.
- Dip half of each cookie into the tempered melted chocolate, forming a triangular shape. Set the limonettas aside on fresh parchment paper and press a big pinch of almonds onto each while the chocolate is still soft. Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of salt and set aside until fully set. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container. Alfajores keep well for up to 1 week.
Tempering chocolate is the key to a glossy, snappy finish. Find out how to do it at home using our handy tutorial.