Lemon Whoopie Pies

Lemon is a beautiful thing. I don’t know how it’s possible, but up until a few years ago I didn’t even like lemon sweets. The thought of a lemon bar or lemon tea cake made my mouth bored. I couldn’t believe people really liked it that much. I thought the craze was simply for chocolate-haters. I don’t know what changed my mind. My husband loves lemony sweets. So, to satisfy his sweet tooth I made lemon poppy seed tea cookies about two years ago. They were light and tasty and I believe that’s where it started. I didn’t solidify my new-found love until I made these lemon whoopie pies.

These cookies are as fun and sweet to eat, as the name is to say. The lemon is light, but definitely present. It’s not tart, but sweet and it makes the cookes seem as fresh as laying in your bed on crisp, clean sun-dried sheets. The light, cakey-cookie sandwiches a lemony cream cheese filling. It’s heaven on a plate, if you even let the cookie rest there.

The cookies are a bit delicate and stick to one another, so I wouldn’t recommend stacking them. Unlike Joy’s advice, I made these cookies in the morning and took them to two locations. They were gone before the end of the day.

While the recipe instructs you to make these cookies large, my intentions were to make more bite-sized treats. I guess mine were still huge! I used a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop for each cookie. Looking back I fear the bite-sized ones may be a little to easy to pop into your mouth and before you know it you’ve eaten 5!

Once you make these, you will make them again and again.

Lemon Whoopie Pies

{Recipe from the Big Fat Cookie Book via JoytheBaker.com}

makes 8 giant cookies (I made 12 cookies)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 large egg

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk.

Lemon Cream Cheese Filling

6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Stop the mixer to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during the mixing.  Add the egg, lemon juice and vanilla, mixing until blended, about 1 minute.  The batter may look curdled.  On low-speed, add half of the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it.  Mix in the buttermilk.  Mix in the remaining flour mixture just until it is incorporated and the batter looks smooth again.

Drop heaping tablespoons (about 3 level Tablespoons each for a giant cookie) of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 3 inches apart.  Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops feel firm, about 12 minutes.  With the exception of a time line at the edges, the tops of the cookies should not brown.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling-

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low-speed, beat the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice until thoroughly blended and smooth, about 1 minute.  Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  If the filling is too soft to hold its shape, chill it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Turn half of the cookies bottom side up.  Leaving a 1/4-inch plain edge, use a thin metal spatula to spread each one with about 1/4 up of filling.  Gently press the flat bottoms of the remaining cookies onto the fillings.

Wrap each cookie in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Serve cold.  The wrapped cookies can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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