When it comes to desserts, I will more likely than not steer in the direction of chocolate.
Except when it comes to ice cream. That is always mint chocolate chip.
In general, I am not a fruity sweet treats person. I make my frozen yogurt concoction as chocolatey as possible, meaning that I will skip entirely over all of the colorful candies in favor of chocolate covered type things. At the end, I am always left with a deep need of water that only chocolate can do to you. During Halloween, I avoid fruity candies like Starbursts and Skittles and you will not find me pawing for lollipops or Jolly Ranchers.
So it was rather surprising to me that when I was waiting around for my family at the library a rainy Saturday after Thanksgiving and randomly picked up this cookie book, it was the recipe for the Lemon Poppy Seed Linzers that stood out to me. Not the Chocolate Whoopie Pies or the Chocolate Chip Cookies, but the ones gloriously dotted with poppy seeds and filled with a bright yellow lemon curd.
Sometimes I will see a recipe and it will take me weeks, months or years to commit to it. Others, it is the next available opportunity. This rule generally depends on the ingredients I have on hand and whether or not I have the majority of them already or how much the recipe captures my attention. In the case of these cookies, it was both of those things. I made these with yuzu juice because I still had a few on hand begging to be used before they shriveled up. But, I know yuzu is rather obscure and makes people like my coworkers say "who zoo?" so sticking with the original lemon is totally okay too.
In flavor, these cookies are very reminiscent of the classic lemon poppy seed muffin, except with a crisp crumb and creamy filling. As a person who does not like desserts that are super sweet, I appreciate how the curd is on the tart and zingy side. It compliments the buttery cookie quite well. Also, I really like the addition of the lemon zest and juice in the cookies themselves. It makes it less of just a buttery shortbread with lots of seeds but instead ones with more oomph.
While rain is forecasted to pound our Northern California roofs for the next week, I love how these cookies bring a bit of sunshine into the otherwise chilly and harsh Californian winter. I'll steer away from the dark world of chocolate for a bit of brightness and spring as I crank on my oven for this upcoming weekend. I've got visions of more pumpkin bread and more cookies dancing around in my head.
And now that I've said this, a chocolate treat is coming your way next!
Lemon Poppy Seed Linzer Cookies
Slightly adapted from One Sweet Cookie
Yields: 30-40 1¼-inch cookies
This is a recipe where various parts can be completed well in advance of others. The dough can be made and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to a month. The curd can be made up until a week in advance. The baked cookies can be made and frozen for up to a month until you need them.
Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread
1½ sticks butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons poppyseeds
1 large egg
6 large egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup fresh lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons
Pinch of salt
1 stick butter, softened
Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add the flour and salt. Continue to mix until well incorporated. Slowly add poppy seeds and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.
Remove dough from bowl and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Form into a firm disk. Chill for at least an hour or overnight.
Fill a medium saucepan, about halfway full, with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Set aside.
In a glass or metal bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt. Set over the saucepan of simmering water, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Whisk the mixture constantly until it reaches 170ºF. Immediately remove the bowl from the heat (careful it is hot!), add butter and whisk until smooth. Place over the bowl of ice water. Let mixture stand at room temperature until cooled and thickened.
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Roll out Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread dough to an eighth-inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter of about 1¼-inch diameter, cut out the bottoms of the cookies. Repeat for the top but also using a smaller, approximately ½-inch cookie cutter to remove the center. Continue to roll and re-roll the dough to cut out the shapes. Chill dough in between sessions if it starts to get too warm. Bake cut-out cookies for 8-10 minutes or until the tops are light golden brown. Cool completely on wire racks.
To fill, spread desired amount of lemon curd on the bottom of the cookie. Lightly press on a top cookie to sandwich the curd. Repeat with remaining top and bottom cookies and lemon curd (there will be some leftover). Store cookies in the refrigerator for up to a week.