Friday, August 30, 2013

Lemon and Mascarpone Sandwich Cookies

It's the end of August, and things are getting weird.  To start, I haven't packed a single suitcase, bought a new set of extra-long twin bedding, or brought my mini fridge up from the basement.  I haven't done any of those things because, a little thing called "commencement" happened only short three months ago.  It didn't really hit me then, that I was actually finished with college, and that I wasn't moving back, but it's certainly hitting me now.  I'm not moving back to campus this weekend, and I'm not starting classes next week.  What is this?!  It's weird I, tell you.  

There is something EVEN weirder taking place right now, though. 

My little sister is leaving for her first year of college in just about 10 days.  WHAT.

It's unbelievably bizarre to think that the ever-growing pile of new bedding, towels, storage bins, and the other random junk associated with college move-in that's in my house isn't actually mine, but my little sister's. She's currently off on a five-day camping trip in New Hampshire as a part of Dartmouth's freshman orientation program, but she will be back next week to finish packing up all of her things before finally making the official move to Hanover. My house has certainly been much more quiet without her in the past 24 hours, a change that I'm not totally complaining about, but I'm sure it will take some adjusting to when she actually leaves.  Aside from obviously missing her, I'll be without my go-to baking consultant, and I'll actually have to live alone with my parents (while they're still as awesome as ever, they've certainly started going a little crazy...).  Things will be getting a little weird around here I bet. In any case though, I'm very happy for my sister.  She seems to be really excited, and I don't blame her.  As cliche as it sounds, my four years in college were some of the most memorable years that I've had in my relatively short life, and I'm sure that they will be for her too, even if she is going to school in basically the middle of nowhere (I tease her about this all the time, since I went to college in NYC, which is essentially the opposite of where she's going to be studying).

My sister going off to college is not an idea I'm completely used to just yet, but I'm sure it'll feel more normal after a few weeks.  I'm actually (aka, secretly) really excited for her to leave, simply because it gives me an excuse to FINALLY send someone a care package of homemade goods.  I've never had the opportunity to send or receive a care package of any kind, only because I lived about an hour away from home and went home often during college, so care packages weren't really necessary.  Now that my sister is going to be about a six hour drive from home, though, I have the perfect excuse to send her all kinds of travel-friendly baked goods, provided that she brings me back some really authentic maple syrup (this is a little bargain that we agreed to).  I can't wait to bake up some quick breads and brownies and cookies to share with her! 

Until that happens though, I have a non-travel friendly, yet delicious, cookie to share with you.  These are tiny little lemon wafer cookies that are sandwiched together with a little bit of fresh mascarpone cream. Mascarpone is a creamy Italian cheese, and it's amazing.  I love mascarpone, whether it's mixed in with pasta to form a creamy and rich sauce, layered in tiramisu, or in fancy fruit tarts.  It's incredibly versatile, and I've often substituted regular cream cheese for mascarpone with great results, as it has a slightly more mild flavor.  The mascarpone cream used in these sandwich cookies is actually my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe, but with mascarpone instead of cream cheese. The frosting that came out at the end was sweet, rich and decadent, and the perfect pairing for simple lemon wafers. 

The original recipe for these cookies was actually for simple, no-frills vanilla wafers.  I have made them several times before, and love them because they're so easy to prepare and are the perfect cookie to have with tea or coffee.  I may love sweet, rich, chocolate-overload cookies, but there are certain times when all I want is something simple and light, and these wafers are the ideal solution.  I changed up the recipe a bit by adding some lemon zest and lemon juice to introduce a hint of lemony flavor, and I think it worked very nicely. This wafer recipe is a perfect blank canvas to experiment with other flavors, like lime, or maybe even ginger, now that the weather is cooling off.  I chose to make half a batch of my usual cream cheese frosting recipe, but I ended up having some frosting left over, as I decided to leave some of the lemon wafers alone to enjoy them as they were.  If you have any sandwich cookies leftover, simply store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator to preserve the cream.  Enjoy!

Lemon Sandwich Cookies
recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma


For the Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 cups all purpose flour

For the Mascarpone Frosting

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ounces mascarpone, cold


In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Mix the two on low speed for about five minutes, to allow the sugar to become fragrant.  Add the butter and salt.  Beat on medium speed until well creamed.  Lower the mixer speed, and add the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and lemon juice, beating until well mixed.  Add the flour, and beat until just incorporated, and a smooth dough forms.  

Divide the dough into four equal portions.  Roll out each portion into an even 7-inch log.  Wrap the logs in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon liners.  With a sharp knife, cut each unwrapped log crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Place the cookies onto the baking sheets.  

Bake the cookies until they are a light golden brown color, about 12-15 minutes.  Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. 

While the cookies are cooling, prepare the mascarpone frosting.  Using a hand mixer, beat together the powdered sugar and butter in a small bowl.  Add the cold mascarpone cheese all at once, and mix on a high speed until the frosting is completely incorporated, light, and fluffy.  

To assemble the cookies, add the mascarpone frosting to a piping bag fitted with any decorative tip.  Pipe a small amount of frosting onto the bottom of a cookie, and top with another cookie, right side up.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.  To store the cookies, keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.  Enjoy!

Makes about 3 dozen sandwich cookies


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