18 February 2011

Recipe for an Early Spring: Whole Wheat Lemon Spritz Cookies with Lemon Lavendar Buttercream

A Taste of Spring: Lemon Spritz Cookies with Lemon Lavender Buttercream

Sadly it's time to say goodbye to Cookie Week. For the grand finale I wanted something that would succeed at several levels of cookie-making -- a sort of choose your own adventure to end cookie week. Immediately I thought of Cannelle et Vanille's gorgeous Lemon Cream Cookies post, where the simple spritz cookie is elevated to new levels with a piped rosette shape and buttercream icing.

Spritz cookies are easy to make* and offer an opportunity to be playful in creating different shapes -- using a pastry bag as Arun did, a cookie press, or with your hands as I did. The rosettes from Cannelle et Vanille are beautiful, but I simplified to save time.  The buttercream is another place for interpretation. It adds a special touch, but the cookie is worth trying alone if you're short on time. 

Make the simple version -- a balled shaped spritz cookie sans buttercream -- or let out your creativity as you discover new shapes and add buttercream to create sandwich cookies. I landed somewhere in the middle. I'd never made buttercream before, so decided to focus on that. 

I made a few changes to the recipe and turned to Epicurious for additional guidance on the buttercream. I replaced the hard-to-find lemon oil with extra lemon zest to boost the citrus flavor. I added a touch of lavender to impart a hint of flavor that compliments the zesty lemon. I also used whole wheat pastry flour to hide a few nutrients in this rich cookie.**

A tisane of 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender with two cups boiling water was a lovely pairing with this cookie. It brought out the touch of lavender in the icing.

Lemon Spritz  Cookies with Lavender Buttercream, makes about 1 1/2 dozen sandwich cookies

If making butter cream, add 1/4 teaspoon lavender*** to the juice of half of one lemon to allow the flavors to meld. Set aside.

110 grams butter at room temperature (one stick)
90 grams sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
3 egg yolks
180 grams whole wheat pastry flour
2 grams salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
+Combine the flour and salt.  
+In a medium bowl, cream butter, sugar and lemon zest. Add the yolks; mix until combined. Mix in the dry ingredients until just incorporated.
+Using your hands, form balls approximately 1 1/2 inches in size, then split in two and place rounded side up on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. I left the first batch as balls and flattened the second batch into rounds for variety.
+Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the underside begins to turn pale gold in color.
+Cool cookies completely on a rack, then fill with lemon lavender buttercream.

This was my first attempt at buttercream so was surprised when it took about 20 minutes of constant whisking over the hot stove, plus additional mixing time. There were moments when I regretted starting and wondered how I'd ever convinced myself this was a good idea. Something would have to be pretty good to be worth all this work. And it was. 

1 large egg white
75 grams sugar
112 grams butter, room temperature (one stick)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon dried lavender

+Combine the egg white and sugar in a heat-safe bowl. 
+Use a double-boiler, as Cannelle et Vanille did, or if you're like me and don't have one, use a large pot with a pasta drainer. Fill pot with water, to a couple inches below drainer. Bring water to a rolling boil, then put the bowl filled with the egg-sugar mixture in the drainer. Gently whisk until the mixture reaches a marshmallow topping consistency. Remove from heat when hot to the touch or a candy thermometer registers 140 degrees F. I noticed a candy-like smell just before it was done.
+Use an electric or hand-held mixer**** to whip at medium-high speed until a meringue forms.*****
+Add butter in one tablespoon increments, blending after each addition. 
+Add lemon zest and lemon juice and lavender mixture. As Cannelle et Vanille notes, the buttercream will likely separate a bit. Just continue to whip until it becomes smooth again. 

*According to my grandmother, the key to spritz success lies in the temperature of the dough. If the dough is too warm it can be difficult to work with. I had no trouble with the dough on the first batch, but chilled the dough in the fridge between batches to be safe.
** The nutrients were well-disguised -- I never would have known it wasn't white flour if I hadn't made the cookies myself.
*** If you'd like a stronger flavor, try grinding the lavender or add more. 
**** I transferred the egg-sugar mixture to a large room temperature bowl.
***** This didn't happen for me. It just seemed to grow slightly, but to remain the same consistency. After about five minutes I gave up and moved on to the next step. It worked out.

Adapted from Canelle et Vanille's post for Lemon Cream Cookies for Jill and the 2004 Epicurious recipe for Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  


  1. Oh my goodness! All of these cookies look wonderful!

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