A Meyer lemon curd- and zest-infused cottage cheese cookie recipe inspired by Berlins’ke pechyvo and Eastern European cheese-style cookies I grew up with tucked into Christmas tins. These are rich with bursts of lemon, crisp and chewy at the same time.
Friday I stood in a church, light gleaming from skylights across my grandmother’s casket, silent tears brushed away as I answered my youngest’s questions. She was buried in a field, one dotted by distinct white marble headstones in perfect rows that follow the curve of the earth, catching the sunlight. Her Naval officer waiting patiently to greet her, as he did so many years earlier when they were young and newly in love.
Flowers in hand, I went home and baked, feeling the dough between my fingers as I rolled and pressed. I stood in my kitchen as the sun dipped lower and lower, thinking of my very first memory, one of my mom in my grandma’s kitchen rolling dough. On cue, my kids squealed as they crowded around asking to help.
“Mom, then you put the lemon curd in the cookie?
Did you put lemon in the sugar?
Can I taste it?
Can I fold them?
Will you show me how?
Do we get to eat these?
Can I eat the extra dough?”
Saturday morning I packed up hot chocolate cups, chocolate-covered spice cookies, and these lemony fans and went to trade them with friends.
We laughed and talked shop and ate doughnuts. I told them how my grandmother would tell us of meeting her Harold in a social club. We sipped tea, babies played, crumbs fell onto snowflake-pattern napkins. The world kept moving, spinning ever forward as my grandparents danced above me, my grandma singing as she twirled, “Five-foot-two, eyes of blue, but oh what those five-foot could do…”
Cheese cookies. I smile anytime I come across a cookie recipe that features a cheese + butter + flour dough that gets dusted with sugar either before baking or at the end. These are the type of cookies I grew up with, packed in tins and delivered by grandmothers. They are the type of cookies I learned to make, keeping the tradition going, and passing it on to my own children. They are slightly sweet, rich, and simple. I’ve shared a similar cookie before, little S-shaped swirls kissed with cardamom, in my mascarpone cardamom crisps.
These cottage cheese cookies are similar in dough before they get cut into circles and pressed into lemon sugar and filled with just a touch of fresh Meyer lemon curd, sweet and aromatic. They end up chewy inside and crisp along the edges, and they tell the tales of brisk December air and cookies delivered in tins to neighbors.
Recipe inspired by the Berlins’ke pechyvo from Mamushka by Olia Hercules and a childhood of similar cookies.
Meyer Lemon Cottage Cheese Sugar Cookies
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 8 ounces small curd cottage cheese
- 2¼ cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- zest from 1 Meyer lemon
- 3-4 tablespoons Meyer lemon curd
- In a stand mixer or medium bowl, combine the butter and cottage cheese. Blend until smooth. Add in the flour and baking powder and mix until a soft dough forms.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
- After the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Combine the granulated sugar and the lemon zest in a shallow dish. Rub the lemon into the sugar to release the oils. Stir to combine evenly.
- On a floured surface, roll the dough to ¼" thick. Cut into 2-1/2– to 3-inch rounds.
- Dip one side of the round into the lemon sugar. Place a ⅛- to ¼-sized dollop of lemon curd on one side of the sugared round. Fold over onto the curd and sugar and press lightly to hold in place.
- Then dip one half of the circle into the sugar. Fold over on the non-sugared side and press to seal. This should create a fanned quarter. Place the folded dough on a lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until cookies start to turn golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet, breaking off any oozing lemon curd or crystallized lemon sugar from the edges and cool on a rack.
Meyer Lemon Curd
- 5 egg yolks
- ¾ cup sugar
- zest from 4 Meyer lemons
- ½ cup Meyer lemon juice (freshly squeezed from above lemons)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Whisk together egg yolks in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a double boiler over medium heat and a low simmer, heat the sugar, Meyer lemon zest, and the lemon juice until the sugar completely dissolves. Continue cooking, stirring continuously, until the mixture just starts to simmer around the edges.
- Whisk in the butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Temper the egg yolks by adding two tablespoons of the hot sugar and juice into the yolks while whisking briskly.
- Slowly pour the tempered yolks into the double boiler while whisking. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
It’s time for Eat Seasonal again, hosted by Becky of Vintage Mixer. Everyone’s contributions look amazing this month. Be sure to see what they shared, and you can follow along on social media using #eatseasonal.
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