It's that time of year where everywhere you look it seems things are twinkling and sparkling - holiday lights, ornaments on trees, fires in the fireplace, etc - I love all of it. So, it'll come as no surprise that I'm also a huge fan of sanding sugars and the way they make goodies sparkle. I'll find any excuse to use them, and it's not hard to come up with one around the holidays. I recently borrowed the Gourmet Cookie Book from my library looking for Christmas baking ideas - it's a collection of Gourmet's favorite cookies, one for each year of the magazine's existence. My favorite thing about the book is that they've included a picture for every cookie so there's no wondering what the finished product might look like. I flagged lots of recipes, but I had to get almost to the end of the book - 2008 - until I came upon these glittering lemon sandwich cookies, and immediately, I knew what I'd be making first. Sparkly sanding sugar? Check. Luscious lemon filling? Check. Cute cookie sandwiches that almost look like little Christmas ornaments? Check.
This is a cookie sandwich that is definitely more than the sum of its parts. I tasted both the cookies and the filling separately and thought they were just ok, but together, really loved them. The cookies are only slightly lemony, but the filling more than makes up for that with its assertive punch. I'd read some reviews indicating the filling wasn't firm enough, causing the cookie halves to slide around, which in turn led me to play with the recipe a bit. I started with only the butter, confectioners' sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in my bowl. I beat them together until well combined, then added just enough of the corn syrup to achieve the consistency I wanted for the filling. In the end, I used a little less than half of the recipe's suggested amount of corn syrup. The recipe recommends storing the cookie sandwiches in the fridge, which I found makes them really sturdy. Also, if you follow the instructions to only use a scant teaspoon of dough for each cookie, the sandwiches will be small enough to pop in your mouth in just one bite, making them perfect finger food for all of your holiday parties :)
Glittering Lemon Sandwich Cookies
from The Gourmet Cookie Book
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
white and colored sanding sugars
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350 F with rack in middle. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
To make the cookies: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and beat to combine. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture just until the dough comes together.
Grab a separate bowl for each color of sanding sugar you plan to use. Roll a scant teaspoon of dough into a ball and drop into one of the bowls of sugar, turning to coat. Transfer the dough ball to one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat, spacing the balls 3/4 inch apart, until both baking sheets are filled. Refrigerate the baking sheets for about 30 minutes.
Bake cookies, one baking sheet at a time, for about 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are slightly cracked but still pale. Transfer the cookies on the parchment to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the second sheet of cookies.
To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat all of the filling ingredients together on medium speed until combined (see above - I didn't use all of the corn syrup in mine). Transfer the filling to a resealable plastic bag and snip off one corner.
To sandwich the cookies: Turn over half of cookies and pipe about 1/2 teaspoon filling on the flat side of each. Sandwich with the remaining cookies, pressing gently until the filling reaches the edge.
Store the sandwiched cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.