Friday, September 25, 2009

Lemon Cream-Filled Cookies

These are nice, simple cookies, perfect for serving at a tea or brunch. They take a little more time than drop cookies but are fairly straightforward and simple to make. My niece Lauren made these for my dad's birthday party last weekend, using my recipe below. She made the dough herself, rolled out the dough, cut out the shapes, baked them, cooled them, made the filling and she and Shyla put them together.

Usually I don't have the time to make sandwich cookies. The chilling, rolling out, baking, cooling and sandwiching together are great for a weekend project but not so much during the week when I get home late from work. The thing with any kind of sandwich cookies is the importance of uniformity. The dough has to be rolled out to just the right thickness. Too thick and you'll get a bulky cookie when you sandwich the halves together. Too thin and they'll break apart easily, not to mention they brown too fast when you bake them. You can't have a thin half and a thick half either - looks weird. Plus each one has to be the same size and shape in order to put together neatly. If you like the homey touch, then it doesn't really matter if the cookie halves are mismatched. But (you guessed it), I'm a bit anal about stuff like that so I prefer to use a cookie cutter to get uniform shapes and sizes for my sandwich cookies.

The filling is important too. If it's too liquidy, the filling will run out the sides of the sandwich cookie or leak out when you bite into it, making a mess. If it's too hard, it ruins the texture contrast with the cookie halves or won't be soft enough to hold the two sandwich halves together.

This recipe is from a Mrs. Fields cookie book. You can use any size and shape cookie cutter to cut the cookies. I like to use small ones for more dainty-looking cookies. Normally I use a scallop-shaped cookie cutter to make these prettier but I had Lauren use a plain circle this time around just to keep things simple.

¾ cup salted butter, softened
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons pure lemon extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup salted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
juice of 1 freshly squeezed lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
grated zest of 1 lemon (2-3 teaspoons)

To make the cookie dough
1. In a medium bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer set at medium speed. Add sugar, and beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
2. Add lemon extract, and beat until light and fluffy. Then add flour and cornstarch; blend at low speed until thoroughly combined.
3. Gather dough into 2 balls of equal size and flatten into disks. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap or a plastic bag. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
To make the filling:
4. In a small bowl, beat butter with mixer until fluffy. Gradually add sugar while continuing to beat. Add cream, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix until thoroughly blended and set aside. To harden filling quickly, refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
5. At this point, preheat oven to 325˚F.
6. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the chilled cookie dough on a floured board to a ¼” thickness. Cut circles of dough on ungreased cookie sheets, ½” apart. Continue rolling out and cutting dough scraps until all dough is used.
7. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Immediately transfer cookies with a spatula to a cool, flat surface.
8. When cookies are completely cool, spread a cookie with 1 teaspoon of the lemon cream. Place another cookie on top of the filling to make a sandwich. Complete entire batch.

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