Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies with Cranberry Jam

I have a HUGE thing for the combination of lemon and poppy seed.  It’s probably the only muffin I can’t resist.  So when I was budgeting out my groceries and picking out recipes to try out, I saw this recipe at the Washington Post website and on the list it went.

But then, Smitten Kitchen posted a poppy seed lemon cake.  Setting aside the fact that Deb’s word is practically kitchen gospel, the cake and accompanying description looked amazing.  I was very tempted to try this recipe, but I’m a stubborn woman.  Plus why would you read my post when most of you probably already read hers?  It’s not like I have adorable monkey photos or anything, so I ended up making these cookies.  I’m also pretty sure I got the absolute last bag of cranberries of the season.

I must say… they were a poor substitute.  I was so smitten (hehe) by that freakin’ cake recipe that when I tried this otherwise fantastic cookie, I was majorly disappointed.  The neighbors loved it though.  My complaints were that it wasn’t moist enough (it’s a dry cookie), it was sweet enough (1/2 c. powdered sugar), and it wasn’t lemony enough (though I was the only who thought that).  That being said, I really just wanted it to be the cake, and it wasn’t.  It was a really good Linzer Torte style cookie take on the classic cake.  I brought them to a Sunday night potluck and they got eaten up, every single one.

Also – I’m still working on being collected enough in the kitchen to take process shots.  So… soon, but not yet.  Till then, bear with me.

pay no attention to the man behind the curtain... or the chip in the plate

Lemon Poppy Seed Sandwich Cookies

Recipe from The Washington Post, December 9, 2009

Makes 1 dozen large cookie sandwiches or 18 medium cookie sandwiches, plus 12 to 18 mini rounds

Ingredients:

For the filling

2 cups fresh cranberries

1/4 cup water or orange juice

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

For the cookies

15 tablespoons (1 stick plus 7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at  room temperature

Scant 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Freshly grated zest from 4 or 5 lemons (about 5 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon poppy seeds, plus more for sprinkling

2 3/4 cups flour, plus more for rolling as needed

Generous 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

For the filling:

  1. Combine the cranberries, water or juice and the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Once the liquid has come to a boil and the berries have popped, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 4 or 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
  3. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender or bowl of a food processor; let cool for 10 minutes, then puree until almost smooth.
  4. Strain out or remove any whole bits, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  A food mill would be useful.  It was a huge pain in the ass to do this with my fine mesh strainer.

For the cookies:

  1. Combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on low speed to blend, then on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  2. Reduce the speed to low, then add the lemon zest, vanilla extract and the tablespoon of poppy seeds, beating to incorporate.
  3. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl or on a sheet of wax paper. Add to the butter-sugar mixture and beat on low speed just until a dough forms into large clumps (on the way to becoming a ball).
  4. Divide in half; wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  I suggest a little bit longer.  I found the first ball of dough I did, which chilled for 20, was slightly less manageable than the second ball of dough I did, which chilled for about 40.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
  6. Lightly flour a work surface, or place the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Divide each portion in half (again, to form quarters of dough).
  7. Working with one quarter at a time, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/16 inch (or as thin as possible).  Then cut out your shapes.
  8. VERY CAREFULLY TRANSFER THE COOKIES TO YOUR BAKING SHEET.  These are pretty fragile, I recommend using a spatula.

    they're fragile, see the broken one?

  9. Sprinkle the cut-out cookies lightly with poppy seeds and then bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until just set but not browned.
  10. Let cool on the baking sheet while you roll out your other cookies. Repeat the baking and cooling steps until you are bereft of dough.
  11. Spread the first batch of cookies with a thin layer of the cranberry jam, leaving a narrow margin at the edges so it doesn’t smush out. Top with the cooled cookies from the second batch, pressing together gently to form cookie sandwiches.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days…if they last that long.  Mine didn’t.

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