Whether spring is in the air in your neck of the woods or not, we can all pretend. These bright, citrusy lemon cookies will help with that.
During this funny time of year when the farmers markets are struggling slowly towards spring, I still find myself gravitating towards citrus for color. And what's better than a recipe that uses three different kinds of citrus to add an extra punch of fragrance and flavor to a simple butter cookie?
This dough is a dream to work with, largely because of the addition of the heavy it makes it pliable, soft, and easy to roll out. The one trick is to work relatively quickly; you don't want to let your dough get too warm, otherwise it will become difficult to work with. Also, don't skip the chilling step. It really will help pull your dough together, relax the gluten, and make your job rolling them out that much easier. While a 1 to 2 inch circle cookie cutter is probably most standard for cookies like these, if you have spring cookie cutters you've been dying to use, this is your chance!
A final note: I always hate recipes that call for a teeny, tiny bit of something I never usually use — then you're stuck with it. So, for example, if you're not in the habit of eating grapefruit at home, just use a little more lemon zest instead. Feel free to improvise with your citrus to accommodate your own tastes and shopping habits. Happy spring baking!
Lemon Sandwich Cookies with Triple Citrus Filing
For the cookies:
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
For the filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
1 teaspoon orange juice
Pinch of salt
In the bowl of an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter, confectioners sugar, heavy cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt until combined, about 1 minute.
With mixer on low, add flour; dough will still be quite stiff at this point. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and pat into a disk about 1/2-inch thick. Wrap and chill until firm, about 1 hour (or up to 2 days, if you like).
To make the filling, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until creamy, about 2 minutes more. Add sugar, lemon zest, grapefruit zest, orange juice, and salt, and beat for additional 3 to 4 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.
Once dough is chilled, unwrap and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough about 1/8-inch thick and cut out using 1 1/2-inch rounds or your favorite cookie cutter. Place rounds on two lined baking sheets, allowing the cookies 1-inch space between one another.
Bake until barely beginning to brown, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Once cool, place about 1 teaspoon triple citrus filling between two cookies, and press gently to spread filling out evenly. If kept airtight, cookies will remain fresh for 2 to 3 days.
(Images: Megan Gordon)