When my kitchen is full of lemons, I always make up a fresh batch of lemon curd. I am particularly partial to Meyer lemon curd. Meyer lemons are less acidic than regular lemons, so they have a strong lemon flavor with a little less tartness. Lemon curd made with Meyer lemons tends to be smoother and much easier to eat by the spoonful than some other lemon curds. In addition to eating it by the spoonful, I also use lemon curd in other ways. For instance, I may put it on top of toast or serve it with scones. I also use it in baking cakes and cookies, like these Meyer Lemon Curd Thumbprint cookies, which really showcase that wonderful curd.
These thumbprint cookies have a beautiful look to them, and the bright yellow of the lemon curd is almost like a jewel in the center of the cookie. The cookie dough itself has a buttery lemon and vanilla flavor to it, thanks to both lemon zest and vanilla extract. It’s slightly soft, not hard and crispy, and very tender. The cookies are also not too sweet, so the zesty lemon curd really stands out and brings a lot of extra flavor to the cookies. The lemon curd will thicken up during baking, but it won’t lose any of its delicious flavor.
The cookies will spread as they bake, so don’t get tempted to flatten them into discs before putting that tray into the oven. If the cookies are too flat before baking, the lemon curd may run out of the cookies and not leave you with neat thumbprints. Meyer lemons are delicious in this recipe, but you can substitute regular lemon juice if you don’t have access to Meyer lemons and you can even use storebought lemon curd for the filling, though the homemade stuff is delicious and well worth making even if you don’t end up putting it in the cookies!
Meyer Lemon Curd Thumbprint Cookies
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp fresh Meyer lemon zest
1/3 cup homemade Meyer Lemon Curd (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract and lemon zest until mixture is smooth.
Working by hand or with a mixer on low speed, stir in the flour mixture until dough comes together and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Roll into balls about 3/4 to 1-inch in diameter (make sure they are all about the same size) and arrange on baking sheet, leaving about 2-inches between balls. Using your fingertip or the back of a wooden spoon, make a very deep indentation into each ball. Fill the “thumbprint” with lemon curd (approx 1/2 tsp in each). Do not attempt to flatten the cookies; the dough will spread slightly as it bakes.
Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the cookies are set and only have a touch of golden brown at the edges.
Allow to cool for 4-5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 2 1/2 dozen.
Meyer Lemon Curd
1/3 cup strained, fresh Meyer lemon juice
5 tbsp sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tbsp butter
In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, dissolve sugar into lemon juice. Bring mixture to a simmer.
Lightly beat egg in a small/medium bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon syrup into the egg to temper it. When lemon juice has been completely incorporated, transfer mixture back into the saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until it just starts to bubble at the edges. Remove from heat and whisk in butter until completely incorporated. Transfer to a small container and allow to cool completely
Makes 2/3 cup.