Messenger Lemon Cookies
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:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- 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.
- Place the blanched almonds on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until toasted.
- Grind the almonds in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs, set aside.
- Whisk the flour, salt, ginger and cinnamon in a medium size bowl, set aside.
- Beat the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Mix in the lemon zest, vanilla and ground almonds on low speed.
- Mix in the flour mixture on low speed just until all ingredients are incorporated.
- Divide the dough in half and form two small round disks.
- Wrap disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Unwrap one piece of dough and roll out on floured countertop to 1/4 inch thick.
- Use a round cookie cutter to cut 3 1/2 inch size circles out of the dough.
- Use another cookie cutter (or carve whatever you like with a knife) to remove part of the inside of half of the cookies.
- Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 15-25 minutes or until the tops are firm.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
To Make the Filling:
- Beat the butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a stand mixer on medium speed until smooth.
- Spread about 2 tablespoons of filling over the bottoms of each of the un-holed cookies.
- Sandwich the cookies with holes in them on top of the frosted cookies.