Candied Lemon Balm Sugar Cookies
“Lemon balm causeth the heart and mind to become merry.”
—Avicenna, physician and philosopher (970-1037)
Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) is one of my very favorite medicinal herbs to grow year-round in my garden and greenhouse. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, and has many beneficial attributes including antimicrobial, antiviral, and mild antidepressant properties can be used to naturally support those with headaches, digestive issues, nausea, abdominal paint, menstrual cramps, anxiety, and mild depression when ingested as an herbal tea or used in aromatherapy. When used topically, it naturally supports those with bee and wasp stings and skin conditions such as ulcers, wounds, scratches, scrapes, and cold sores. As a gentle nervine, it is safe to use on children. It can be infused in honey and used as a calming nighttime syrup to calm and rejuvenate the nervous system and promote peaceful sleep in both children and adults. Lemon balm is used to naturally improve memory and concentration and is used to support those with Alzheimer’s disease and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD.)
CANDIED LEMON BALM SUGAR COOKIES
Decorating baked goods with candied lemon balm is quite possibly my favorite use for this incredible herb and the technique for making them is very simple, with supplies and ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. They are the perfect addition to my traditional sugar cookie recipe, which I have altered just slightly to include a hint of lemon. This recipe, along with several other herbal recipes, can be found in my book, Seasonal Living with Herbs, available in my shop or at all major book retailers.
Ingredients for Candied Lemon Balm
bundle of lemon balm leaves
egg white from one egg
splash of water
½ cup (115 g) granulated sugar
To Create Candied Lemon Balm
- Whip one egg white with a splash of water in a small bowl until very foamy.
- Snip a single lemon balm leave from your bundle, leaving an inch of the stem attached to act as a “handle” when brushing and coating the leaf. Using a soft-haired paintbrush, gently brush both sides of the leaf with egg white foam. If the egg white foam settles while you’re working, re-whip it to keep it light and foamy.
- Pour the sugar onto a small plate and lay the lemon balm leave on top of the sugar. With a spoon, sprinkle sugar over the top of the leave until fully coated. Then flip the leaf over and repeat on the other side.
- Gently relocate the leaf to a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet to dry overnight.
- Repeat this process for as many leaves as you wish to make. Handle the leaves very gently, as they are fragile after they’ve been candied. I recommend making more leaves that the number of cookies you plan to bake, so you have extras to snack on or in case one breaks when being handled.
Ingredients for Cookies
1 cup (227 g) butter, softened
¾ cup (172 g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 ½ cups (570 g) flour
To Create Sugar Cookies
- Mix the butter on medium speed in a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) for 30 seconds. Add sugar, egg, and lemon juice to the butter and continue to mix until well blended.
- Slow the mixer down to a lower speed and add in the flour.
- Remove from the mixer and knead for 2 minutes on a clean lightly floured surface.
- Store the dough in an airtight container or freezer bag and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and pull the dough from the refrigerator. Let it sit out on the counter until it is soft enough to be worked (but not room temperature;) about 30 minutes.
- On a floured surface, roll the dough out to ¼ inch thick and cut with a cookie cutter that is larger than your lemon balm leaves. Reroll the trimmings and continue until you’ve used all the dough.
- Bake 8-10 minutes, until you see the bottom edges of the cookie very slightly beginning to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
This recipe made 10 cookies with a 2.5-inch diameter cookie cutter.
Ingredients for Glaze
2 ¼ cups (512 g) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons (30 ml) light corn syrup
2 tablespoons (30 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
To Create Glaze
- In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients with a fork until smooth.
- Spread onto each cooled sugar cookie with a cheese knife. Snip the stem off a candied lemon balm leaf and center it on the wet glaze. Let dry for three or more hours before storing to be sure the glaze has dried completely.
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