Jeff, with the help of Gus in his lap, cracked it open and guess what? It landed on those Chocolate Whoopie Pies that we have made before. He tried again, which brought us to these Butterscotch Sundae Cookies, and again, we made those too. Third times the charm, right? Yes! This time, he managed to strike a new one - these Lemon Coolers.
To incorporate the first layer of lemon into the cookies, we took note of a technique we first tried a few years ago by using your fingers to rub the intense zest into the sugar(s) before you begin mixing in the fat. Manhandling the zest this way bruises it, smashing the natural oils into the sugar making for quite the fragrant experience. You'll need a fair amount of zest to push the lemon flavor through - however, if you by chance have lemon oil at your disposal, drop the amount of zest down to a teaspoon and add a quarter teaspoon of the oil.
Using butter in the cookies lends flavor and tenderness as one would expect, but to make these cookies tender and soft enough that they practically melt on the tongue, a half cup of softened cream cheese also jumps into the mix. With the dry ingredients stirred in to form a soft dough, it will need to rest in the fridge for a half hour before you begin the baking process.
Dropped onto baking sheets using a tablespoon cookie scoop, the balls of chilled dough are flattened using the bottom of a glass, or measuring cup, to spread them into a rough round about a quarter inch thick. To prevent the cookies from attaching to the flattening utensil of choice, dip the bottom into confectioners' sugar between each press.
Once they've been baked until the bottoms and edges are a bare golden, the hot cookies will be fairly delicate - let them cool right on the baking sheets for a few minutes to allow them to set and make them handle-able without falling apart. The tops of each cookie were supposed to be dipped into a lemon-laced sugary concoction, but in our case we need to spoon the sugar over the top and gently rub it in (see below). The mixture was made by blitzing superfine sugar with confectioners' sugar and two bright tablespoons of fresh lemon zest. Just as in the cookies, if you happen to have the concentrated pure lemon oil handy, you could take out the zest and use a quarter teaspoon oil instead. A good time to take care of this is either before you begin making the dough or while it is hanging out in the refrigerator, resting.
When I was imagining this cookie, I thought the topping would be more like snow-like or powder-y and soft - you know, like powdered doughnuts or whatnot, but it was more like moist granulated sugar. My guess is my lemon zest was extremely moist, which worked against the confectioners' sugar. Even if our topping wasn't exactly as intended, we both liked the sugar-y, tart crunchy crust it gave the cookies! I did, however, have a truckload of that sugar mixture leftover - at least three-fourths of it was still there when I was done with all of the cookies, making me believe it was suppose to end up powder-y. Refreshing, citrusy and a nice change from those heavier or chocolate laden treats.