Lemon Tea Snaps

When I visit Long Island, where I grew up, I always come away feeling a bit sad. Having left home when I was 18, I never returned to live there although many people whom I love―the cousins I grew up with in particular―chose to remain there to build their work and their families.

My reasons for leaving were complex, but my reason to return in recent years has been to visit my mother and help her now that she is getting on in years. I want her to know my husband and children and I want them to know the place that shaped me all those years ago. During our visits, we’re always sure to head to  the beach. I miss the sandy shores of the southernmost part of Long Island as much as I miss any part of my youth and want to share that special place with my family. With its wide beaches and newly refurbished boardwalks, its surfers and fishermen―these beaches are where I went with friends any chance we could after school and in the summer to laugh and play, to tan and relish the smell of the ocean along with the heat of the sun. It’s where I felt free even in times of difficulty. I want my son and daughter to catch a glimpse of that feeling of freedom and make it their own. I want to share the romance of the place with my husband as we walk hand-in-hand on the shore. And I want my mother to catch the texture of the seawater on her skin, to feel the ocean breezes as we stroll with her in her wheelchair. Perhaps she, too, conjures up memories of her youth, grasping a glimpse of lighter times.

During high school, I worked at a bakery in our town on Long Island. It was a magical place―with shelves filled with fresh bread, fruit tarts, cream cakes and all manner of cookies. These Lemon Tea Snaps are reminiscent of my favorite cookie from that bakery. Little buttery jewels, they are filled with the fresh taste of the lemon. Not overly sweet, but very crispy, these cookies are perfect with a simple cup of tea on a rainy day like today. They help wash the sadness away.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


Lemon Tea Snaps

Yield: 6 dozen small cookies


  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Whole milk or ½ & ½ for brushing
  • Coarse sugar for sprinkling


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, salt and baking soda. Mix in the lemon zest, then half of the flour. Add the lemon juice and the other half of the flour.
  3. Roll the dough into a ⅛-inch-thick rectangle on a piece of parchment paper. Transfer the parchment to a baking sheet. Prick the dough all over with a fork, and cut it into 1 x 1 inch rectangles. All you need to do is cut the dough. Do not pull the cookies apart.
  4. Brush the top of the dough with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  5. Bake the cookies until they are golden and brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven  and transfer to a rack to cool.
  6. When they’re cool, break them apart into individual cookies.
  7. Serve and enjoy.


  1. This recipe was slightly adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.
  2. Store cookies in an airtight container.

Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at www.denatestabray.net. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.