My good friend Lindsey's birthday was last weekend and I know my practical gifts of love made in my kitchen are always a sure hit with people, especially Lindsey who never hesitates to sing my culinary praises. In fact, if I'm feeling a bit blue, I can ask Lindsey what she liked about my latest creation & by the end—I'm encouraged. Ya know, sometimes it doesn't take much.
When I asked Lindsey what her favorite type of flavors or desserts were she said, "Lemon, not pie or cake--not so much!" Well, I understood what she was talking about. Because I really like lemon desserts, but lemon meringue & a lemon cake (or should I say lemon filling) doesn't sit well with me. I do like lemon curd though & lemon tart; however, the meringue atop a lemon pie is so sad most of the time. And the lemon filling in cakes is typically poorly done. I knew what she needed was lemon sandwich cookies, but all the recipes you would come across for lemon sandwiches are the rolled out kind and this tired mama wasn't feelin' it after putting my girls down for bed & cleaning up the chaotic remains.
So after perusing my cookbooks I came across this Vanilla Sugar Cookie and knew it could easily be adapted to suit that lemon hankering I was seeking. I thought I would make two different kinds of frosting to spice things up a bit. And since I wasn't about to go and buy more cream cheese than what my fridge was holding, I did what any inventive baker would do--split it in half & say a blessing to see if the frosting would multiply like the loaves & fish. Some had lemon & some had coconut filling. And I would say both hit a great spot with just the right amount of lemon in the cookie. Ben even said, "These are pretty good for a lemon cookie, because I don't like lemon cookies." And he ate more than one.
Lemon Cream Cheese Filling
Lemon Sandwich Cookies with Coconut & Lemon Filling (printable recipe)
I was inspired by the Vanilla Sugar Cookie in The Good Cookie Cookbook. I wanted to make a lemon cookie and used two different fillings. One is a lemon filling, while the other is coconut filling. You choose what you like best..or do both!
1 cup granulated sugar
zest from one lemon (about 2 Tb)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ tsp lemon essence
squeezed juice of one half lemon
Coarse sugar (turbinado) for sprinkling
Coconut Filling Ingredients & Lemon Filling Ingredients
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp coconut extract
1 cup sweetened coconut
½ to 1 tsp lemon essence
Directions for cookies:
Preheat the oven to 375. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silipat.
Put the granulated sugar into a bowl and add the lemon zest to the sugar. Using your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar, in order to get as much of the oil out of the zest as possible. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, & salt and set aside.
In a mixer bowl, add the butter and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar & the lemon zest sugar to the butter, beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, till the mixture is light & fluffy. Turn off the mixer and add one egg at a time, briefly beating at low speed just until the egg is combined. Add lemon essence & lemon juice and mix for about 10 seconds. With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients until it's all combined.
Put about ½ cup of coarse sugar in a bowl, then take the other half of the lemon and do one light squeeze onto the sugar. It will get the sugar a bit wet, but not drenching it. Have your hands lightly wet, put one tablespoon of dough in your hand and roll it to make a ball. Continue doing this placing the rolled dough 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheet. Either roll the balls around in the lemon turbinado sugar or sprinkle the lemon turbinado sugar on top. Lightly press down on each ball, so you're making them into a circle (not too much & not too little either). Bake for 9-11 minutes.
Put on a cooling rack and let them cool for about 5 minutes. Remove and put on aluminum paper. Meanwhile, make the frosting.
Directions for Frosting:
Beat the butter in your stand mixer on medium speed for 1 minute. It should be light & fluffy. Now add the cream cheese in halved pieces and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, still on medium speed. Turn mixer down to low and slowly add powdered sugar. Once the powdered sugar has been fully incorporated, then turn up the speed to medium and beat for an additional 30 seconds.
Get out a medium bowl and scoop out 1/3 of the frosting. Add ½ tsp of lemon essence to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside and there is your lemon frosting.
Add the 1 cup sweetened coconut & 1 tsp coconut extract, mix thoroughly and there is your coconut frosting.
Assembling: You might have assorted sizes, so match up the ones most similar and begin frosting by putting about 1 tablespoon of frosting on each cookie smoothing it out and put another cookie on top. Then eat one or two to sample, so you can attest to their goodness to your family & friends.