These lemon cream sandwich cookies are a dreamy delight. The shortbread melts in your mouth, and I promise once you make this lemon cream you’re going to want to put it on everything. Together they’re the tart, rich, creamy cookies that you didn’t know you were craving.
This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, and I am ready. Well, mostly ready. Memorial Day means that school will be out soon, which means that I will have two young humans running around all day, every day. I’d better get my art supplies and sidewalk chalk ready.
I hope all of you reading this in the states are enjoying an extra day off and getting to spend some time outside. I’m writing this a couple of days ahead of time, so hopefully I’m on a boat right now (with my flippy floppies) and definitely not working. Maybe you’re doing all of the traditional Memorial Day things, like going to the pool or firing up the grill or sitting in traffic trying to get up north (it’s a Michigan thing). If you have the time to bake, and I hope that you do, you might want to move these lemon shortbread cookies to the top of your “to-bake” list.
The cookie itself is a simple shortbread, with powdered sugar for extra lightness. The lemon cream is straight from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours. It’s so good, it doesn’t need any adapting or tweaking. It’s lighter and somehow creamier than lemon curd, and it’s good on everything from waffles to blueberry cobbler. The recipe here will make more than you need to fill the cookies, but it keeps well in the refrigerator, and I’m sure you’ll find other ways to use it. I suppose you could halve the lemon cream recipe or, even better, double the shortbread and find some friends to help you eat them all.
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), at room temperature or a little warmer
- ½ cup powdered sugar? 1 cup?
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest of 3 lemons
- 4 large eggs
- ¾ cup fresh lemonjuice (from 2-3 lemons)
- 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature and cut into tablespoons
- Preheat oven to 375° and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment (a hand mixer will also work), cream butter and sugar. Start your speed low, then gradually increase it to medium to avoid a powdered sugar explosion. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in flour and mix only until just combined.
- Place dough on lightly floured counter. Roll out dough to about a ¼ inch thickness. Using a 2 ½“ or 3” biscuit cutter, cut out 12 cookies. Use this same cutter to cut out 12 more, but use a smaller circle (1” or smaller) to cut out circles in the middle. Place on cookie sheets and bake the cut-out cookies (and the small circles) for 10-12 minutes, and the whole cookies for 13 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Cool on cookie racks until room temperature.
- Get your equipment ready. You’ll need a blender, a strainer, and an instant-read thermometer.
- In a medium or large heatproof bowl (make sure it will fit over a small saucepan of simmering water), rub the lemon zest into the sugar until it is aromatic. Whisk in the eggs and then the lemon juice.
- Set the bowl over a small saucepan filled with simmering water on medium heat. Make sure you have the thermometer either on hand or placed in the bowl so you can check the temperature regularly. Whisk the mixture constantly (it’s a workout, but if you don’t, the eggs will start to scramble), and continue to check the temperature. You’re looking for it to get to 170°F. When it’s getting close, the mixture will eventually start thickening up and the whisk will leave tracks. This took me 10 minutes, and I adjusted my heat down as the temperature passed 160°F. As soon as it reaches 170°F, remove the bowl from the heat.
- Holding the strainer over your blender, strain the mixture into the blender and discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools down to 140°F. This should take about 10 minutes.
- Turn the blender to high. While it is running, add the butter 5 pieces at a time, scraping down the sides of the blender as you need to. Once all of the butter is in, keep the machine going for another 3 minutes to get it light and creamy.
- Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface so that it is airtight, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight).
- Spoon a tablespoon or so of lemon cream onto one of the large cookies, then top with the cut-out tops. You can use the small circles you cut out to make tiny, adorable sandwich cookies as well.