It is officially Christmas cookie season, which means it’s also time for the yearly cookie exchange. Not for me, I got burned years ago by people with lame cookies, so I let my wife Beth deal with that now. How did I get burned you may ask? Well, let’s just say that spray frosting from an aerosol can sandwiched between two Ritz crackers should in no way be considered a Christmas cookie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no cookie snob. I’ll eat any cookie you put in front of me, and many of them.
The cookie I chose for our cookie exchanges this year is called Santa’s Lemon Berry Popcorn Cookie. Quite a mouthful right? Actually, it’s quite small, at about an inch and a half in diameter, but it is packed with big flavor. For this cookie I started with a pretty standard shortbread cookie recipe, then Jimmied it with some grated lemon zest and some limoncello liquor. For those of you who don’t know what limoncello is, it is a lemon flavored liquor which comes from Italy. I used a locally made version from Yahara Bay distillery in Madison, WI for the recipe. Yes, it tastes very good on it’s own. I cut out the cookies with a small fluted biscuit cutter. If you don’t have one, simply form the dough into a long cylinder about 2” in diameter, then refrigerate and cut into coins about a half inch wide.
For the topping of the cookie, I got a little freaky. Rather than use a small amount of strawberry preserves, which would be easy, I made a thick paste made from smashed freeze dried strawberries, powdered sugar, more limoncello liquor and a little store bought eggnog. The freeze dried strawberries are expensive, but they really pack a nice fresh strawberry flavor that you can’t get with preserves. For the crunch factor, I added a piece of kettle corn, then drizzled a powdered sugar, eggnog and lemon juice mixture over the top. A little more lemon zest sprinkled on top and you’re good to go. If that sounds like a lot of fussing for a cookie you are giving away, simply make the shortbread cookie, then dust them with powdered sugar and some freshly grated lemon zest. I don’t think anyone will complain that you’re Christmas cookies aren’t creative this year. Until our next article, remember to cook with love and live to cook.
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 Tbl. grated lemon zest
- 1 Tbl. lemon juice
- 31/2 cups All purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. salt
- Strawberry sauce
- 1 cup freeze dried strawberries, crushed into a fine powder
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tbl. limoncello liquor, may substitute lemon juice
- 3 tbl. eggnog, may substitute milk
- 3 cups kettle corn popcorn, may substitute plain
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 Tbl. limoncello liquor, may substitute lemon juice
- 1 Tbl. eggnog, may substitute milk
- fresh grated lemon zest, for garnish
- For cookies:
- Combine butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until combined. Add vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift flour and salt. With mixer on low, slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix until dough starts to stick together. Transfer to a flour dusted surface and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll the dough until about ½ inch thick. Cut out circles and place on parchment lined sheet pans. Bake for 15-17 minutes until edges are slightly browned. Cool completely.
- For strawberry topping: In a small bowl combine strawberry powder, powdered sugar, limoncello and eggnog. Stir until smooth and thick. Spread a scant teaspoon onto each cooled cookie. Place one piece of popcorn in the middle of each cookie.
- For lemon drizzle: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, limoncello and eggnog. Stir until smooth. drizzle with a small spoon over popcorn. grate lemon over the top and let harden. Serve, or store in a cool dry place until needed.