Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Lemon Project...

Last year for Father’s Day, I made my first tart in my new (at the time) blue tart pan, a Lemon Cream Cheese Tart.  Over the weekend, I recreated this tart, although this time with just a layer of homemade lemon curd over the cream cheese layer, instead of the lemon pastry cream I made last time (basically, just using a lot less butter).

The intensely yellow lemon curd proved difficult to photograph, to say the least, appearing almost neon on camera, but still sunny and cheerful during these increasingly colder winter days.

Using some of the tart dough, I rolled it out and cut shortbread cookies, using a round cutter with a pretty fluted edge.  The cookies baked up beautifully pale golden, buttery and crunchy-crumbly, exactly the way shortbread should be.

I filled the cookies with a fluffy lemon buttercream and drizzled them with white and dark chocolate.  The recipe for the cookies is at the end of this post, and the lemon tart recipe can be found here.

I had also planned to make some candied lemon slices for garnish, which I have done before with great results, but when you candy lemon slices then put them into the oven to dry out, don’t fall asleep on the couch until 1am like I did.  You’ll end up with burned, completely inedible lemons glued to the pan.

Why all this lemony shortbread goodness, you might be thinking?  Well, that’s why I titled this post “The Lemon Project”, because right at the moment, I really can’t go into what the project was all about.  Let’s just say I needed to create a few signature desserts for “something”, and now I just have to sit back, wait, and see what happens.

That’s vague, I know, but the thing is, I don’t know the ending to this story yet, either…  ;)

Lemon Shortbread Sandwich Cookies

Shortbread Cookie Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1-3 teaspoons ice water
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, powdered sugar and salt.  Scatter the cold butter pieces over the flour, and using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until you have coarse crumbs with visible chunks of butter throughout.  Add the egg yolk stirring into the flour and butter with your fingers.  Work the dough with your fingers to incorporate the moisture into the flour.  (The dough will appear very dry, and you might think it doesn't have enough liquid, but don't worry, it will come together.)  After 2-3 minutes of working the dough, it should start to hold together enough so that you can gather it into a ball.  Add the ice water, a little at a time, just to finish bringing the dough together so that you can roll it out.

Shape the dough into a disk and set on a piece of parchment paper, lightly floured.  Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough.  Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick.  Use a cookie cutter to cut as many cookies as you can; transfer the cookies to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat, placing the cookies 1 inch apart.  Gather up the dough scraps, roll them out again, and cut more cookies, continue rolling and cutting until you've used up all the dough.  You should be about to cut about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutter/s.

Freeze the cookies on the baking sheets for 45 minutes to an hour.  This will help ensure that they hold their shape and do not spread out during baking.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Bake the cookies (straight from the freezer) for 12 minutes, just until a very pale golden (the cookies do not rise or spread).  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Lemon Buttercream:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
To make the buttercream, combine all ingredients on low in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  When combined, increase speed to medium high and whip for 4-5 minutes until very light and fluffy.  Pipe or spread buttercream onto half of the cookies, then top with another cookie.  If desired, drizzle with a little melted chocolate.

Yields about 1 1/2 dozen filled cookies or 3 dozen cookies without filling. 

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen