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Melissa’s back-to-school treat

for The Brooklyn Paper

I remember being so excited for my first day of school. I had laid out my dress the night before, a pretty yellow and white gingham frock with a lacy eyelet collar. My bookbag was packed, Barbie lunchbox at the ready. My mom had touched up my saddle shoes with white polish paint and buffed them to a shine.

I was terrified of getting on the bus — but my bravery was rewarded upon coming home to the smell of my mother’s lemon cookies, my favorites.

Clearly, school wasn’t quite so bad after all.

Melissa Murphy is the chef/owner of Sweet Melissa Patisserie [175 Seventh Ave., between First and Second streets in Park Slope, (718) 788-2700; 276 Court St., between Butler and Douglass streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 855-3410]. Full menu at

Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies

1/2 pound (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1-1/2 cups sugar

Zest of two lemons, finely grated and chopped

Juice of two lemons

2 large eggs

2-3/4 cup all purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and mix to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat to combine.

In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture in two batches, blending after each. Scrape bowl to ensure proper mixing.

Refrigerate the dough until firm, about one hour.

Position a rack in the top and bottom thirds of your oven. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

When the dough is cold enough to handle, use a one-ounce cookie scoop, or a tablespoon, to shape the dough into balls and then roll them in the sugar.

Place the cookies two inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets and flatten them slightly with your fingertips so that they stay put. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the bottoms are slightly golden. These cookies are supposed to be chewy, so do not over-bake.

Remove to a wire rack to cool.

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