Last week I finished baking the last of the Christmas cookies. Encouraged by the happy eaters of the Lemon-Poppyseed Sandwich Cookies at previous holiday gatherings, this year I had made a double batch, and then ran out of time to complete more than half of them. The remaining dough and filling waited in the fridge until I got back some strength, and a plan for where to send the finished product so that I wouldn’t eat them all myself.
With so many young, even teen-aged, folk around here at Christmas, I expected to see the cookies go faster than they did. But never during the week of feasting did I spy anyone who might vie with me for the Cookie Monster title, and there are certainly no other contenders remaining in this house now. So when I found a willing person to be my delivery man, I sent them to Soldier and Joy.
The recipe (based on this one at Epicurious) starts with sugar cookies that are heavy with poppyseeds and two sources of lemon flavor, and finishes with the crunchy cookies enclosing an also lemony cream cheese filling.
At the epicurious.com site one can read comments from many readers detailing what happened when they tried the recipes, and the various changes that we daring cooks insist on making.
Most people who had made these cookies thought there should be more filling than planned for in the recipe as given, and I also ran out of filling at my first trial, so this year I doubled the cookie part, but tripled the filling. Not that it’s a problem to have leftovers of either. The cookies are wonderful by themselves, and the filling would be awfully nice spread on toast.
The majority of bakers also liked the cookies better after they had sat in the refrigerator and softened up, though the original recipe said to fill them not long before eating to keep the cookies crisp. I prefer them soft, as did most of the people I fed them to. They are good straight from the freezer, too, I found out!
Here is my version with the extra filling, and a couple of other changes, cut in half so that no one has to assemble 60+ cookies to find out if she likes them.
Lemon-Poppyseed Sandwich Cookies
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
4 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix flour, salt and baking powder in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light. Gradually beat in sugar. Beat in egg, then poppy seeds, lemon peel and extracts. Mix in dry ingredients. Gather dough into ball, divide into two parts and flatten each into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 2 hours. If wrapped well, it will last in the refrigerator over a week.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 2 large baking sheets. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Using 2-inch-diameter cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Arrange cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Gather scraps; reroll and cut out more cookies.
Bake cookies until edges just begin to color, about 18 minutes. (If you use insulated sheets as I did they might take longer.) Cool cookies on sheets 3 minutes, then transfer to racks and cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting and baking with remaining dough. (Can be made ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 1 month.)
Beat all ingredients in large bowl until light and fluffy. Spread 2 teaspoons filling over bottom of 1 cookie. Press second cookie, bottom side down, onto filling. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. (Can be made ahead. Cover and chill.)
Some of the cookies in this later batch are a bit wrinkly, a result of the dough having dried out a little. I did add a few drops of water when I re-rolled the scraps and that helped them look better. But the wrinkly cookies were otherwise fine.
After my last post featuring a photo of lemons, Jody asked how I like to use these fruits. I consider myself a good person to ask, because my father raised not only oranges but lemons, and until a few years ago when someone very stupid — yes, I mean it — took out the two large trees that remained from ten acres of lemon grove, I used to have as many lemons as I wanted for free.
Lately I’ve been using a lot of lemons just to add the juice to hot water for drinking on cold days. But of more elaborate recipes, some that I’ve loved over the years are Lemon Curd, Greek Egg-Lemon Soup, Lemon Chicken, and Lemon Pudding Cake. And now — Lemon-Poppyseed Sandwich Cookies!