Lemon Poppy Seed Sandwich Cookies

lemonpoppycookiesFlavor pairings always interest me, and lemon and poppy seed is probably one of my favorites. Today’s lemon poppy seed sandwich cookies are inspired by the fact that I had some lemons in my fridge I needed to use and that I wanted to make something vaguely black and gold, in honor of my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers and their miraculous presence in the playoffs. I’ll be waving my Terrible Towel this evening against Kansas City, for sure.

Black and gold baking can present a challenge if you’re not interested in using black food coloring, which I tend to shy away from for its propensity for staining one’s lips and tongue a rather ghastly color. While these are much more black and yellow (cue the Wiz Khalifa song!) than black and gold, they are absolutely delicious. Next time, I’d bake my cookies for a minute or so less so they’re just slightly softer and the filling won’t squish out quite as much when you take a bite. In any case, here we go Steelers!

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds

For the filling

  • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • zest of 1/2 lemon (or use more zest to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and beat to combine. Scrape down your bowl and add the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour and mix on low to combine completely. Stir in poppy seeds.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 9-10 minutes, until edges are set and tops no longer look shiny. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheets for about 1 minute, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make filling, combine butter and powdered sugar in a mixer and beat on low speed until the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter. Add lemon zest, lemon extract, and milk and beat to fully combine. Place filling in a piping bag for easier cookie assembly.

To assemble, flip cookies over and pipe a dollop of filling into the center of half of the cookies, then top with a second cookie and press gently to spread the filling. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. Makes 17.

Lemon Pie Cookies

lemon pie cookiesMy grandpap, Andy Kozusko Sr., loved lemon meringue pie. My grandma Zella would make it occasionally, a labor-intensive affair involving carefully formed crust, homemade filling, and cloud-like meringue. He always proclaimed it delicious, and thanked her for making one of his favorite treats.

Girls from Pittsburgh seem to have special relationships with their grandpaps (in itself, a very Pittsburgh word). I had the fortune of living just five doors up from mine, able at any moment to skip down the sidewalk and stand by his side at his work bench or help him weed the vegetable garden. Our birthdays were four days apart, so they were often celebrated together; the year I turned five and he turned 61, we shared a Strawberry Shortcake-themed birthday cake. He was the gentlest of souls, and I lost him to lung cancer when I was in high school. To this very moment, I miss him as if it just happened yesterday.

If he were still on this earth, my grandpap would have turned 92 last week, so I made these cookies in honor and memory of him. Like his favorite lemon meringue pie, they are also quite labor-intensive, so I’m providing two ways of preparation for those who are short on time.

Version 1:

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pie crust
  • 2 10-ounce jars lemon curd
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • sugar, for sprinkling

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Prepare egg wash by whisking egg and water together; set aside.

Prepare pie crust and roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut circles and set aside; re-roll scraps and continue cutting circles of dough until you’ve used it all and have an equal number of top circles and bottom circles for the cookies.

Take each circle and roll it out again, to about 1/8 inch thickness; you want the crust to be thin, but not so thin the cookies will burst when baking.

Spread about 1 teaspoon of lemon curd onto one circle, leaving about 1/4 inch border at the edge, then top it with another circle of dough. Pinch the edges together, place on the prepared cookie sheet, then press the edges closed with the tines of a fork.

You should be able to fit about 6 cookies on each cookie sheet; once your sheet is full, brush each cookie with the egg wash, sprinkle it with sugar, and cut a vent in the top of each cookie.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges just begin to turn golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on a wire rack.

Version 2: Please note that this is not how I prepared my cookies, though the original recipe called for this kind of preparation using store-bought pie dough.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pie crust (you will only need two of the three crusts that the recipe yields)
  • 1 10-ounce jar lemon curd
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Prepare pie crust and roll out two circles to about 1/4 inch thickness and 9 inches in diameter; it will be important for your crusts to line up so that you can place one over the other.

On the bottom crust, spread lemon curd, leaving about 1/4 inch border at the edges. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut through both layers of crust. Transfer cookies to prepared cookie sheets and press edges to seal, brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and cut a vent in each top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges are just golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on a wire rack.

Lemon Tea Cookies

Have I mentioned how much I love lemons?  Yes, I believe I have.  I also love tea, and nothing accompanies a good cup of tea as well as a good tea cookie.  These cookies are a delightful companion to your favorite tea, light and cakey, with a tangy lemon glaze.  You can make your glaze as thick or as thin as you like; mine is about the consistency of corn syrup.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, slightly softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 ¾ cups flour

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter on low speed for 30 seconds.

Add sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, and baking soda and beat until well-combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add egg, lemon juice, and milk; beat until combined.

Beat in flour until well-combined.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto foil-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 12-16 minutes, until tops are firm and cookies are just golden.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

Drizzle with lemon glaze.

Lemon Glaze

Ingredients

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

Combine powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.  Continue adding lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.  For thinner glaze, you can add water in addition to the juice.

Spoon over cookies, allowing the excess to drip down the sides.