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Little lime cookies deliver a pop of sweet-tart flavor

Recipe: Refrigerator cookie dough also can be frozen for later baking

A simple icing gives these lime refrigerator cookies a bright sweet-tart finish.

A simple icing gives these lime refrigerator cookies a bright sweet-tart finish.

Kathy Morrison

Citrus comes along just when we need it. Limes and mandarins in late fall are followed by Meyer lemons and navel oranges, grapefruit and all the other backyard tree delights of winter.

Three limes of varying ripeness
These limes show varying stages of ripeness,

So here we are, with shorter, darker, colder days, and my little lime tree is bending under the weight of ripening fruit. They’re changing from classic (but underripe) green to pale yellow, still delicious but less acidic.

I found a refrigerator shortbread cookie that delivers a really nice spark of lime. Without icing, it’s just barely sweet, and with icing it’s a perfect sweet-tart combination. Either version goes well with a cup of tea on a chilly afternoon. 

Since butter is pricey these days, I baked a small batch, but typically I would double this recipe to make 3 dozen cookies. 

Or double it anyway, and freeze one of the rolls of dough. Freeze some juice and zest, too, for the icing and you’ll be able to bake a bright citrus treat weeks after the limes are harvested.

Iced lime shortbread cookies

Makes 18; easily doubled


Cookie dough:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grated zest from 1 lime, about ¾ teaspoon

1 cup all-purpose flour

⅛ teaspoon salt

A log of dough and a black ruler showing it's 6 inches long
A single batch makes a 6-inch log of dough.


½ cup confectioner’s sugar

½ teaspoon lime zest

1 tablespoon or more fresh lime juice


Make sure the butter is soft, but don’t melt it in the microwave – you need to be able to beat some air into it.  Cream the butter and the confectioner’s sugar until light, then stir in the vanilla and lime zest. 

Whisk together the flour and the salt, and add to the butter mixture, combining until the dough looks like crumbs but holds together when pressed.

Shape into a log about 6 inches long and about 2 inches across. Wrap in wax or parchment paper and chill thoroughly, a few hours or overnight. (Or wrap in a second layer, of plastic wrap or foil, and freeze.)

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the roll of dough from the refrigerator and let it soften slightly while the oven is heating – it’ll be easier to cut. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.

Cut the log into ¼-inch slices (I’ve found a serrated knife works well) and place the cookies on the parchment. They don’t rise or spread much, so can be an inch or so apart on the paper.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, just until the edges start to turn brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool thoroughly.

Baked cookies on a black cooling rack
Allow the cookies to cool before icing.

Make the icing by stirring together the ½ cup confectioner’s sugar, the zest and the lime juice. Add more juice if needed to make the icing easy to spread but not runny. Spread it on the cooled cookies and allow to set for about an hour before serving.

Note: If you don’t want icing but do want to dress up the cookies a bit, try this: Before baking, sprinkle onto the cookies a bit of coarse sugar or colored sugar that’s been combined with some lime zest.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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