I have a problem.
No, not the lizard. Let me rephrase. I have three gorgeous yellow problems that have been staring at me, pouting from their spot on the counter, for over a week. It’s pathetic. I am talking about Meyer lemons. Half lemon, half orange, thin skinned and succulent, subtle yet immensly powerful. What on earth am I going to do with them? If I don’t find the perfect recipe to showcase these gems they are going to turn into horrible mouldy mush and the world will end.
I have a second problem. I have an addiction to these little cookies that cannot be sated, but I know they can be improved.
I have a third problem. I may be certifiably insane, because I decided to use one of the precious lemons to make the lemon creme for these cookies. And I decided to base my recipe around guesswork and the ingredients list from the package.
They’re not perfect, I’ll warn you. I need to make the cookies crisper and more crackery next time, but I haven’t figured out yet how to do that without sacrificing their flavor, which is rich and creamy and molasses-dark, a perfect counterpoint to the light, bright lemon creme sandwiched between them.
Lemon and ginger, as a combination, cannot be beaten. The ginger adds heat and spice to the lemon, highlighting it like Fourth of July sparklers. The lemon provides a sunny tartness that nevertheless feels cool against the ginger, like a lazy summer day in the swimming pool I no longer have because I left Florida like an idiot. Um, anyway. Cookies!
Ingredients (makes about 2 dozen cookies, or 12 cookie sandwiches. What constitutes a serving is up to you and your owl.)
For the cookies:
6 T (3/4 of a stick) of softened butter
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger*
1/4 t salt
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 t ginger
*I know, it’s not a lot of ginger. We’re going for gentle and mild here. If that’s not what you want, double the ginger, but use a regular lemon in the creme instead of a meyer one, or the citrus will be overpowered.
Preheat oven to 350°F and get started on that batter.
Cream butter and sugar, then add molasses, egg, and vanilla, mixing well between ingredients. Molasses is messy and almost bitter and you’ll want to wash your counter after using it, but it makes this cookie. Please, if you make substitutions, leave the molasses alone. It is the best part.
Now the dry ingredients. I have no patience for dirtying a second mixing bowl just for flour and friends. I dumped all the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cinnamon into my fine mesh strainer, stirred it a bit with a spoon, and sifted directly into my one bowl. Then out with the handy dandy hand mixer to blend it all together. In the end, it looked like peanut butter.
This was my first hurdle. This dough is sticky. I chilled it for a couple of hours in the fridge, but it was still sticky. So I mixed 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger in a little dish, and rolled my dough balls in it. Make the dough balls about 1 T each. I think I made each one a little bigger than the last, and ended with one monster cookie at the end that we just ate straight out of the oven before it could destroy Tokyo or get tricked by a fox or anything else untoward.
Arrange the dough balls on a parchment lined baking sheet and squish ’em a little. I Just put the little stars on to measure spreading, an effort that proved futile as the stars melted totally out of view. Let me just say they spread a lot. Bake these at 350°F for 8-10 minutes, turning and swapping the positions of the pans after 4 minutes. When they’re done, slide the parchment off of the cookie sheets and onto the counter so that the heat from the cookie sheets stops cooking them. This is easier if Mr. B hasn’t chosen this exact moment to take over half of a counter and the stovetop for the making of tea.
While the cookies are cooling, make the lemon filling.
6 T butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
zest and juice of 1 meyer lemon
I thought about using cream cheese instead of butter for a thicker, creamier, and more intense filling. I’m glad I went with butter, which contributed to the lightness I was going for and didn’t compete for attention with the meyer lemon at all.
Cream butter and zest together, then sift in the sugar and mix on high. It will seem like it’s not working for a few minutes, but will then rather suddenly turn into a nice thick frosting. Juice the lemon into a small bowl, then strain out the seeds. I just poured mine through the same fine mesh strainer I used to sift the sugar. A spoon works just as well for juicing citrus as a traditional reamer does, just squeeze and twist. I got about 3 1/2 T of juice out of my lemon. If you get much more, you may need to add a bit more sugar to the mix to keep it from being too liquidy. Use your own judgment; I’m not in your kitchen to see what’s going on. Mix well until the lemon creme is light and fluffy.
Spread a good sized dollop of filling onto a cookie, top with another cookie, and squish. Continue until all of your cookies are cookie sandwiches. If you have an odd cookie out, make a cookie burrito out of it with lots of filling. You’re the cook, so you’ve earned first taste, right?
So they aren’t really that close the the source of the addiction, and they do need some tweaking, but I’m still going to have to take these to work to keep from eating them all here. So they’re definitely good.
Now what should I do with those other two lemons?