Lemon Sandwich Cookies with Homemade Lemon Curd
May 13, 2021
Do you know how easy it is to make homemade lemon curd? Well, it’s super simple, and for me, that was a life-changing discovery. Combined with these extra easy shortbread-like cookies that have their own lemony flavor, it makes for a sweet and refreshing dessert treat, perfect for the warming weather.
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I unabashedly love lemon curd. Like eat it with a spoon out of the jar love the stuff. It’s so sweet and delicious and refreshing. But it doesn’t make a very transportable snack. So I knew that it needed to find its home nestled between some light, lemony cookies.
But these cookies are more than simply a vessel for the sweet and sticky curd. They are that melt-in-your-mouth buttery shortbread texture. That makes them sturdy enough for the thick texture of lemon curd, but light enough that you can truly focus on the lemon flavor.
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for these homemade lemon curd sandwich cookies at your grocery store:
- Pantry: Sugar, Flour, Cornstarch, Salt
- Produce: Lemons
- Fridge: Butter, Eggs
- Equipment: Baking sheets, Parchment paper, Zester, Mixing bowls, Stand mixer, Rolling pin, Cookie cutters, Cooling rack, Double boiler, Whisk, Plastic wrap
Let’s Make Lemon Sandwich Cookies
For this recipe, I will walk you through making the cookies first and then the lemon curd. Both store well, and the lemon curd should chill for at least a few hours to thicken up, so feel free to switch the order of these around to whatever suits you the best.
Get started on the cookies by preheating your oven with a rack in the center. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper and set it aside. You can bake two trays of these cookies at once, or you can make them in batches on a single sheet.
Before getting started, be sure to zest and juice your lemon. I like to use a microplane zester, which does a really great job of getting all of the small delicious zest pieces without any of the bitter pith. For the cookies, you’ll only use a small amount of juice, so squeeze the rest into some water, tea, or a cocktail.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the sugar with lemon zest. The best way to stir these together is by using your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar, which will fully incorporate it. If you’d prefer, you can use a couple pulses of a food processor instead.
Unlike most cookie recipes, this one starts with cold butter instead of room temperature. This helps the cookies hold their shape better when baked, so they won’t spread as much and lose those lovely scalloped edges.
However, you will still cream together the butter and sugar to aerate the cold butter. Use your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, and run it on low speed for just a couple minutes until it’s lightened in color and fluffier.
Add in the eggs, and continue mixing until they are thoroughly combined into the butter. In these cookies, the eggs act as a binder, but they are also the only leavening agent in the recipe. You’ll notice there’s no baking soda in these, another little trick that helps them keep their perfectly cut edges.
Next combine the dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl: flour, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk them together until they are uniform. The cornstarch is the true secret in these cookies. It’s what gives these that soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture, instead of being a crumbly mess.
Add the combined dry ingredients into the mixer bowl with the butter, and at this point you can also add in just a little bit of the fresh squeezed lemon juice. This will add a little bit of moisture, and also a little extra lemony flavor into the cookies.
Mix everything together until it’s just incorporated. When it’s ready, the dough will be fairly dry and stiff, but still have a buttery texture on the surface. This dough doesn’t require any chilling, but you can store it unbaked in the fridge for a few days. Just form it into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Then allow it to thaw to room temperature before working with it.
Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper for rolling. This will not only make cleanup easier when it comes to your surface and rolling pin, but it also allows you to roll the dough without adding any excess flour.
This means you can reroll the scraps as many times as needed without changing the texture of the dough. Roll it out, in batches if needed, until it is between an eighth and quarter of an inch thick. It’s okay if it’s not entirely uniform. These cookies tend to be quite forgiving.
Then use a fluted edge round cookie cutter to shape the cookies. You’ll use this shape for all of them, and then use a smaller circle cutter to put a hole in the center of half of them. Put all the scraps together, and repeat until you are out of dough. If you have an odd cookie, bake it up anyway – bonus snack!
Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet. These hold their shape and size pretty well without expanding too much, so you can put them fairly close together. Just leave about a half inch.
Bake for just under ten minutes, until the cookies appear dry. They should not be browned on the tops or edges, although the bottoms may brown slightly. Allow them to cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack.
You may be able to fit them all across two baking sheets, but if not, or if you only have one, you’ll need to bake in batches. After removing the cookies, run the hot baking sheet under cold water, dry it thoroughly, and re-line it with fresh parchment paper before adding the next batch.
The baked cookies without any lemon curd will keep in a sealed container at room temperature for a few days. You can also freeze them for a few months, and thaw at room temperature before filling and serving them.
How to Make Homemade Lemon Curd
The trick to lemon curd is a double boiler, which allows you to gently heat the lemon curd, so it doesn’t break or burn. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can place a heatproof bowl on top of a saucepan. The bowl should be large enough to sit above the water without touching it.
To get started, heat about an inch of water in the bottom pan of the double boiler and bring it to a boil. Once bubbling, lower the heat so it remains at a simmer. The steam from the water will then heat the top pot or bowl.
While the water is coming to a boil, you can zest and juice your lemons. Then combine all of the zest and juice from both fruits into the top of your double boiler with the eggs and sugar. Whisk everything together to combine it, and then place on top of the simmering water.
Whisk the mixture gently but constantly, to keep it moving, and check the temperature as it cooks. Lemon curd does not need a lot of heat to come together, but you will want to make sure it reaches a minimum of 170°F in order to pasteurize the eggs.
The mixture will also begin to thicken and become uniform as you stir. When it’s ready, turn off the heat. Add in the butter, which you will want to have cut into tablespoon-sized slices or even a little bit smaller to increase the surface area. This will help it melt faster.
Stir in the butter until it melts and is fully incorporated into the lemon mixture. Then transfer the lemon curd into a glass jar or bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap, with the plastic touching the surface of the curd. This will help prevent a film from forming on the top.
Chill the completed lemon curd in the fridge for at least four hours to let it thicken up. If possible, leave it there overnight, so you can be sure it is fully cooled throughout.
Once chilled, the lemon curd can be stored in the fridge for weeks, as long as it’s in a sealed container. It no longer needs the plastic wrap touching the surface after it has chilled the first time. For longer storage, you can also freeze lemon curd. Allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight before using it.
To make the cookie sandwiches, first pair up your cookies by size. I like to pair up all the cookies before I start filling any, so that I don’t end up stuck with a very obvious size difference. Even using cookie cutters, uneven oven temperatures and other factors like the dough stretching as you transfer can lead to slightly different sized cookies.
Add a spoonful of lemon curd onto the bottom of one of the cookies without a hole. Then top it with a cookie that does have a hole. Gently twist the cookies in opposite directions to spread the curd. If you squeeze or press instead of twisting, it will cause the curd to come out the hole instead of spreading it around the cookie.
Once filled, cookie sandwiches will keep in the fridge in a sealed container or you can freeze them. If frozen, allow them to thaw in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for half an hour before serving.
Lemon curd is okay at room temperature for about six hours, so while you should always store these cookies cold, they will be fine sitting out on a dessert table for a little bit without worry.
Lemon lovers, these are your new favorite cookies! Shortbread style cutout cookies are filled with homemade lemon curd for a sweet, refreshing, and super delicious treat.
How to Serve Lemon Curd Sandwich Cookies
I love the adorable scalloped edges on these cookies, and it would be a shame not to put them out on display for every bake sale, cookie spread, or potluck in your immediate future. If you are looking for a crowd-pleasing signature cookie, these can fit the bill.
Build a fun and fruity cookie platter around these, together with cherry chocolate chip cookies, colorful blueberry cheesecake cookies, and plum jam cookie bars. Or balance out the citrus flavor with the richness of peanut butter chocolate cookie cups and rocky road black bean brownies.
Enjoy a couple cookies with a warm mug of tea or a cool chai latte green smoothie. For some extra fun, serve some out on your patio with a raspberry lemon mojito, cucumber and basil gin cocktails, or a big pitcher of dragon fruit and raspberry sangria.
Other Citrus Sweets to Enjoy
Lemon Sandwich Cookies with Homemade Lemon Curd
Lemon Sandwich Cookies
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Lemon zested and juiced
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter cold and cubed
- 2 Eggs
- 3 ¾ Cups All-purpose flour
- ½ Cup Cornstarch
- ½ tsp Salt
- 2 Egg Yolks + 1 Egg
- 2 Lemons zested and juiced
- ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
- 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter sliced into Tbsp-sized pieces
- ¼ tsp Salt
Lemon Sandwich Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the center. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Stir together, and rub the zest into the sugar using your fingertips, full incorporating it.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and lemon sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on low. Add in the eggs, and mix until thoroughly combined.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, and add in 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Mix on medium-low until incorporated. The dough will be fairly dry and stiff, but still have a buttery texture on the surface.
- Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper (you can do this in batches, if needed). Roll out the dough to be between ⅛ and ¼-inch thick.
- Then use 2 ½ fluted edge round cookie cutters to shape the cookies. Use a ¾-inch circle cookie cutter to cut out the centers of half the cookies.
- Reroll excess dough, and repeat until you have cut out all the cookies.
- Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet. The will not expand too much, so you only need to leave about half and inch between them.
- Bake 8-10 minutes (I find 9 exactly works perfectly for me) until the cookies appear dry. Allow to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a rack to cool completely. If baking in batches, run the baking sheet under cold water, dry thoroughly, and re-line with fresh parchment before baking the next batch.
Homemade Lemon Curd
- Heat about an inch of water in the bottom of a double boiler up to a boil, then lower to continue simmering. If you don't have a double boiler, you can place a heatproof bowl on top of a saucepan. The bowl should be large enough to sit above the water.
- Add the eggs, lemon zest and juice, and sugar to the top of the double boiler, and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F.
- Turn off the heat and add in the butter, stirring until it has melted and full incorporated. Transfer the lemon curd to a glass jar or bowl and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the curd. Chill in the fridge at least 4 hours and preferably overnight. It will thicken as it chills.
- Spoon about 1 Tbsp of lemon curd onto the bottom of one of the cookies. Top with a cookie that has a cut out hole and gently twist to spread the curd. Do not squeeze as it will cause the curd to come out the hole instead of spreading it around.
- Make ahead tips:
- Once chilled, lemon curd can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, in a sealed container. It can also be frozen for up to 6 months. Allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight before using.
- This dough doesn't require any chilling, but you can store the unbaked dough in the fridge for 3-4 days, shaped into a disk and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Allow it to thaw to room temperature before rolling.
- Baked cookies without lemon curd will keep in a sealed container at room temperature for 3-4 days, or can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Once filled, cookie sandwiches will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for 1-2 weeks, or frozen for up to 3 months. Allow them to thaw in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for half an hour before serving.
- Using parchment paper for rolling will not only make cleanup easier when it comes to your surface and rolling pin, but it also allows you to roll the dough without adding any excess flour. This means you can reroll the scraps as many times as needed without changing the texture of the dough.
- Baking sheets
- Parchment paper
- Mixing bowls
- Stand mixer
- Rolling pin
- Cookie cutters
- Cooling rack
- Double boiler
- Plastic wrap
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