Messenger Lemon Cookies

crunchy and gooey

I wanted to make something speical for my friend Mel’s birthday, but we were going to be traveling in a car, so a traditional cake wouldn’t survive. I thought of regular drop cookies because they are oh-so-tasty, but they aren’t screaming “Happy Birthday!” in that festive way that cakes do.

Then, as I was about to go to sleep one night,  it came to me: large sandwich cookies with “Happy Birthday Mel” carved into the tops! Perfect! I based it on a scrumptious-looking ginger lemon recipe from Elinor Kilivan’s book “Big Fat Cookies.”

The cookies turned out tasting great- the almonds and spices make it hearty and flavorful- but they were a little bit messy. The lemon curd filling I made had fantastic lemon flavor, but oozed out the sides of the cookies, even after refrigeration! So, I am including Elinor’s powdered sugar-based filling in the recipe here. Although I haven’t tried it, I am confident it will come out better than what I used!

I used the extra dough and filling to make sandwich cookies with holes in them, as pictured here. This recipe makes 10 large cookies.

For the Cookies:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup almonds

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

To Make the Cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Blanch the almonds by placing them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. Remove them and slide skins off with your fingers.
  3. Place the blanched almonds on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until toasted.
  4. Grind the almonds in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs, set aside.
  5. Whisk the flour, salt, ginger and cinnamon in a medium size bowl, set aside.
  6. Beat the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
  7. Mix in the lemon zest, vanilla and ground almonds on low speed.
  8. Mix in the flour mixture on low speed just until all ingredients are incorporated.
  9. Divide the dough in half and form two small round disks.
  10. Wrap disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  12. Unwrap one piece of dough and roll out on floured countertop to 1/4 inch thick.
  13. Use a round cookie cutter to cut 3 1/2 inch size circles out of the dough.
  14. Use another cookie cutter (or carve whatever you like with a knife) to remove part of the inside of half of the cookies.
  15. Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 15-25 minutes or until the tops are firm.
  16. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Beat the butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a stand mixer on medium speed until smooth.
  2. Spread about 2 tablespoons of filling over the bottoms of each of the un-holed cookies.
  3. Sandwich the cookies with holes in them on top of the frosted cookies.happy birfday girl!
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