Berry Lemonade Cookies by Molly Brodak


This is it y’all, this is the cookie recipe.

The one I’ve been working on for two years.

My beloved dough is all dressed up for spring here with tangy berry and lemon flavors and I couldn’t be happier about how these turned out.

This recipe makes a perfect cut out cookie that is tender yet keeps any shape you cut it into. Some bakers simply use shortbread for their cut out cookies since, without any eggs or leavener, shortbread always keeps its shape. But this is no crisp, crumbly shortbread—this is a soft cookie with a tender crumb. And it’s all thanks to a couple of key techniques and ingredients, the most important of which is cream cheese.

Replacing some of the butter in a basic cut-out cookie recipe with cream cheese allows the cookies to stay soft and moist while minimizing spread. Plus the slight acidity of cream cheese acts as an extra tenderizer, ensuring these cookies have a smooth, soft mouthfeel and none of the dry flouriness that ordinary rolled doughs have. Just make sure you’re using real, full-fat cream cheese blocks and not the spreadable kind that comes in tubs. A fellow pastry chef told me that in France his colleagues call cream cheese, a newish product to them there, “Philadelphia” and praise its wonders—in Spain and Mexico it’s called queso filadelfia. It’s really a unique cheese when you think about it—it’s not exactly like other soft cheeses, and the particular fillers it uses (gelatin, xanthan gum, guar or carob gums) give it a special consistency that makes it both creamy/spreadable and able to keep its shape.

I developed this recipe because I really wanted a cut-out cookie that tasted as good as it looked. I’ve tasted plenty of fancy decorated cookies in my life and hooo boy, some people just do not care how their cookies taste, I can tell you that for sure. Especially in our image-soaked Instagram-era of baking where carefully edited photos are often valued over, you know, flavor, I wanted to make sure my cookies could walk the walk.

This dough is truly foolproof. It is very easy to work with, versatile, and tastes even better than all-butter cookie dough in my opinion. Follow a couple of my temperature techniques below and you can accomplish anything—ANYthing—with this dough.

Since I had lemons and blood oranges laying around, I decided to make a curd of each—honestly they are both great, but the lemon curd is really a knockout.

[heart eyes emoji here]

[heart eyes emoji here]

Here I’ve simply added fruit powder to the dough for a pop of color and intense flavor—pairing the cookies with tart lemon and orange curd makes them an incredibly fun and flavorful cookie. To make a plain version of these cookies, just omit the fruit powder. Or try an added 1/3 c. of cocoa powder for the best chocolate cookies you’ve ever tasted.

Side note: never listen to a recipe that tells you to “substitute” some flour for cocoa powder to make something chocolate. That’s insane. Cocoa powder is made of dried cocoa solids…it is not a grain, and it behaves very differently from flour in a recipe. Just because both are powdery and dry doesn’t mean you can substitute one for the other. This dough recipe is receptive enough to allow up to 1/3 c. of any low-moisture addition—cocoa, fruit powder, spices, herbs, chopped nuts, heck, go crazy.

Freeze dried berries are easy to find in the grocery store now (Trader Joe’s consistently has great freeze dried fruit options), although certainly you can find them online too in bulk. I used raspberries, strawberries and blueberries here, and I’ve also used peaches, apples, and mangos to great effect with regards to flavor (not so much with color). My mini food processor is perfect for the job of pulverizing the freeze dried berries into powder. If you don’t have a food processor, just beat/roll the berries in a ziplock bag with your rolling pin until finely crushed. DON’T FORGET to look for the little inedible silica packet that often comes in freeze dried fruit packages and remove it before whizzing everything together! I have made this idiotic mistake a few times when I’m in a hurry and have had to throw out entire batches of fruit powder once I saw the mangled silica packet buried in the powder.

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The only common errors that can happen with this dough are (1) not mixing the cream cheese and the butter well enough and (2) not pulling the cookies from the oven at the right time (more on that later). Since the two ingredients have different consistencies and usually different temperatures, you can sometimes get lumps of cream cheese in your dough if you don’t scrape the bowl well or mix long enough. Here I’ve stopped mixing too early so you can see the lumps.

see them lumps

see them lumps

Keep mixing until the butter and cream cheese are uniform, but do not overmix. You don’t want to cream this mixture—it would add too much air to these cookies, which would only make them drier and more likely to spread. It should stay “wet” looking and un-fluffy, like this. It kinda looks like hummus to me.



I used these adorable Thumbprint Cookie Cutter Stamps from Williams Sonoma that are ideal for creating sharp edges along with a perfect little well in the center for the lemon curd (lazy? Just use pre-made jam instead!). Or you could just make thumbprint cookies the old fashioned way—with an actual thumbprint—either way, these cookies are going to taste fantastic.

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Adding a touch of heavy cream to citrus curd makes it a bit more opaque, giving the color more saturation—plus it adds a touch of extra creaminess. I like tasty salted butter in my curd, but feel free to use unsalted if you prefer. Try to make sure you’re not letting any egg whites get into your mixture as you separate your eggs, since it is usually these errant whites that end up cooking and ruining your smooth curd with icky lumps. This recipe will make more curd than you need for the cookies, but not more than you need, you know, in your life in general.


5 large egg yolks

200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar

zest and juice of 4 lemons

113 g (1 stick) salted butter, cold, cubed

1/2 tsp (one splash) heavy cream

Bring about a cup of water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Whisk yolks and sugar in a metal or glass heatproof bowl and place over simmering water. Whisk for about a minute, until the yolks lighten, then add zest and juice. Whisk for 8 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened. Stir in butter, one piece at a time, until fully incorporated. Strain mixture into a small bowl and allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and place in fridge to chill.

You can see my blood orange curd was looser than my lemon curd—both consistencies worked just fine

You can see my blood orange curd was looser than my lemon curd—both consistencies worked just fine

Now that we’ve got that chillin in the fridge, it’s cookie time. This recipe as written below is a half batch; I always double the amounts you see here. I halved it because I imagine most people just don’t need as much dough as I usually need. On the other hand, this dough stays perfect in the freezer so I highly recommend just doubling it and freezing the extra dough into sheets and saving it in your freezer for the next time you feel like baking off a batch…

A quick note on rolling out dough. I don’t recommend using any flour whatsoever to roll this dough out—it already has the perfect amount of flour in it, and adding flour to the outside of a raw cookie can make the baked cookie taste floury and overcooked. Instead of rolling on a floured surface, use wax paper. My rolling pin never touches my dough! Here’s my technique:

Cut a long piece of wax paper, a bit longer than your cookie sheet. Place the rested dough on the wax paper and allow a margin of the paper to fall over the side of the table or counter you are rolling on. Then cover the dough with another sheet of wax paper and start to roll the dough, unsticking and repositioning the top sheet of wax paper as needed (I do this after each roll). Hold the bottom sheet of wax paper in place by pressing your legs or tummy against the lip of the wax paper and the edge of the table or counter. It’s a bit odd, but this is the best way to keep the wax paper from sliding around as you roll out the dough. Keeping the dough sheet on the wax paper also makes it super easy to pick up and transfer onto your baking sheet to freeze before cutting out shapes.

I also use perfection strips to keep my dough a consistent thickness. They work much better for me than the spacer rings you can buy for rolling pins, since I’m a klutz and I can never seem to keep the rings from rolling over my dough and messing up the thickness.

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Once the dough is fully rolled out, cover the dough sheet with plastic wrap and place in the freezer to chill until firm. All cookies I bake I cut straight from the frozen sheets of dough then pop immediately into the oven. You’ll get less spread and sharper edges by cutting and baking from frozen dough. Just be sure to peel off the wax paper as well as the plastic wrap and the cookies will come off your cutters easily and won’t lose their shape as you transfer them to your cookie sheet.

Now, you’ve got to be careful on timing here. The cream cheese and the fruit powder both work to mask the usual visual cues that tell you when a cookies is done—dry top, brown edges. The cookies will puff slightly as they bake, then start to settle. It is once they start to settle that you want to pull them. You’ll notice slight browning on the bottom edge of the cookie, but other than that, the cookies will not change color much—which is great for these fruity beauties.




1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder

400 g all-purpose flour

113 g (1/2 of an 8 oz package) cream cheese (not low-fat)

226 g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

225 g granulated sugar

1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp almond extract

pinch citric acid (optional)

1 large egg yolk, room temperature

1/3 c freeze-dried strawberry, blueberry or raspberry powder (about 2 c. of sliced freeze-dried fruit will grind down to about 1/3 c.)

Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside. Using a hand mixer, mix butter and cream cheese on low until fully combined and no lumps of cream cheese remain. Add sugar, salt, extracts, and citric acid and mix until just incorporated. Add the yolks and mix again until just incorporated, then repeat with the fruit powder. Remove dough ball from bowl and knead a few times in your hands to make sure the flour is fully incorporated. Divide into two balls and flatten into discs. Wrap well in plastic wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes—until it is rested and firm but not rock hard. Roll out each disc between sheets of wax paper then freeze dough sheets if using a regular cookie cutter, or cut shapes immediately if using the cookie cutter/stamps with plungers. Freeze cookies for at least 15 minutes before baking.

When you're ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Remove dough from freezer, cut shapes directly from frozen dough sheets, and bake frozen shapes immediately on cold or room temperature cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. If shapes become soft as you work with them, be sure to refreeze before baking. Bake for 8-12 minutes. Cookies will not brown much due to the cream cheese, so just look at their bottom edges for slight browning where the cookies touch the cookie sheet/parchment/silpat.

Allow to cool completely, then frost and fill with chilled lemon curd.

SO pretty and SO YUMMY

SO pretty and SO YUMMY

The Pinnacle of Shortbread Mountain by Molly Brodak

I realized recently I have been doing so much cake-work in my sweetcraft practice. Time to get back to basics. The most basic of all basics, shortbread, which is, if executed well, hardly basic. 

Recipes for shortbread should be, well, pretty short--this is a recipe about butter, and if you start mucking things up with bips and babs (chocolate, lavender, caramel, etc) you're not really doing shortbread. Shortbread's purpose begins and ends with chauffeuring butter to your palate.

I wanted to create a shortbread recipe that would ensure the most toasty, buttery flavor possible while maintaining an exceptionally tender texture, not overly sandy, dull, or pasty. (Almost) as always, a little bit of extra work makes a dessert that is enormously more extraordinary. We've got three different sugars, two different butters, two different flours, a resting period, and a bit of egg yolk coming down the line--still, it's a very easy recipe.

Let's start with butter, as we should. It makes sense to want to reach for a really expensive, European high-fat/cultured butter for a recipe like this. And, indeed, we will. But as most bakers will tell you, you can't always swap in your Plugra for your standard American butter. It has a slightly higher fat content, less water, and is often cultured (making it slightly acidic), all of which affects recipes substantially. Rest assured this recipe is adjusted for Euro-butter factors.

We're also going to to use browned butter for half of the total butter requirements. All-browned butter in a shortbread recipe would create a butter a little too solid, since so much more water is evaporated from browning the butter, little is left to create steam/rise in the dough. But we really, really want those little flavor bits that browned butter imparts, so a balance must be struck.

look at those precious chunks of browned milk solids!

look at those precious chunks of browned milk solids!

With our higher-fat Euro butter in play, we need to make some adjustments to the flour. Cake flour has the ability to absorb more liquids than all-purpose flour, but using all cake flour can leave you with a chalky shortbread. All purpose with a small portion of cake flour gives us the right texture and prevents the shortbread from becoming greasy due to the extra fat. Definitely use your scale here; in one test batch I added just half an ounce more flour and the resulting shortbread was too dry.

Often a little bit of starch is also added to the dough in order to help soak up some of that fat, and give the shortbread a silky tenderness. This is where our mix of sugars comes in. White sugar melts fast and will create the right structure for the starches and proteins, powdered sugar adds a silkiness thanks to the cornstarch, and brown sugar just for that light molasses-y flavor.

All that's left, ingredient wise, is some egg yolk. Purists would balk at adding egg to shortbread, but purists would also be too busy choking on a mouthful of their powdery sand cakes that explode into dust upon biting into them to admit that the old fashioned recipe for shortbread needs a little more structure, a little more protein in order to make it flaky and tender instead of a dust bomb. Just half an egg yolk; a full yolk would prevent shortbread from being "short" enough (refers to the extremely fine/melting crumb). Trust me, you'll see.

I also knew that, as with many other cookie recipes, letting the dough rest would result in a more flavorful shortbread. Unrested, you are baking flour particles next to butter particles in your dough, which is fine. But rested, you are baking butter-soaked flour particles, which is great. I tested the recipe at three stages--unrested, rested for two hours, and rested overnight. Guess which one tasted best.

The unrested dough tasted mostly like flour. Both rested doughs tasted fantastically buttery and complex. Texture-wise, they weren't that different; the unrested dough was slightly chalkier.

The good news is that the batch rested for two hours tasted pretty great, almost as great as the 24-hr shortbread, so if you are in a hurry you'll still come out ahead with just a little resting.

they don't look very different, but they sure tasted different

they don't look very different, but they sure tasted different

Thick shortbread is better than thin shortbread if you want a truly tender bite instead of just a crisp one. Double baking the shortbread a la biscotti will give you the most beautifully browned and crisp exterior; I highly recommend it. I also recommend removing the center of your shortbread if using a round tart pan since the center will never really get cooked, and those pointed edges of each wedge will always break anyway (see my set up above; I use a metal biscuit cutter as a center stay). A rectangular pan also works great here, just make sure you are using a pan with a removable bottom as the shortbread is really delicate.

The Best Shortbread Ever

makes 12-14 wedges 

8 Tbsp (4 oz) salted cultured European-style butter, soft but cool (Plugra, Lurpak, etc)

8 Tbsp (4 oz) browned butter, cooled to semi-solid

1/4 c. (1.75 oz) packed light brown sugar

2 Tbsp (0.9 oz) sugar

2 Tbsp (0.5 oz) powdered sugar

1/2 large egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla extract or scraped vanilla bean

1/4 tsp salt

2 c. (9.5 oz) all-purpose flour

1/4 c. (1 oz) cake flour (I use White Lily)

1 Tbsp Demerara or sanding sugar for sprinkling

With a hand mixer, beat softened butters, sugars, salt, 1/2 egg yolk, and vanilla extract/beans until just combined and smooth, about 2 minutes (stop before mixture begins to fluff up). Add flours and beat just until dough comes together; do not over mix.

Press dough into a 8" tart pan or cheesecake pan with removable bottom and pat the top with wet fingers to smooth. Dock the dough with a fork and sprinkle demerara sugar on top. Cover and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Bake in an oven preheated to 275 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the heat up to 375. Allow shortbread to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then cut into wedges and transfer carefully to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for an additional 15 minutes until toasted to a golden brown. Allow to cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.

possibly the most addictive thing on the planet

possibly the most addictive thing on the planet

Salty Malty Cookies by Molly Brodak

Over in the Buy a Recipe section of Kookie House I sell a very good and special recipe that I typically have spent months/years developing. These recipes will change in inconsistent amounts of time since time is arbitrary here at Kookie House. Each recipe is available for a limited time only and I can't sell you the old ones, so be sure to save or print your downloads as soon as you purchase them, and check back regularly for new ones.

To start things off I wanted to offer my all-time favorite cut-out cookie, since cookies make up the floors and the ceiling and the around-and-around of Kookie House. No matter how many cakes and eclairs and fancy gumpaste flowers I make, cookies remain the still point of my spinning world.

The flavor of these cookies is incomparable. You have never had a cut-out cookie so good. I have never truly enjoyed eating sugar cookies, especially those iced with royal icing. They are typically too sweet and bland. These were designed to taste delicious with royal icing or fondant icing, but are incredibly addictive on their own. The malt flavoring not only adds a delectable richness to the buttery flavor of the dough but also encourages browning, gilding the edges of your cookies with that crucial Maillard gold.  

You do need to get yourself some dry malt extract. Malted milk powder will not work as a substitute. You need the pure stuff, and the darker the better. I highly recommend Briess Traditional Dark, which you can buy here or at your local home brewer's supply shop. If you like malt flavor, or just delicious things in general, you will find all kinds of other uses for powdered malt around your kitchen, from malted milkshakes to malted waffles to a more fantastic fried chicken batter. (Be sure to store the rest of your malt powder in a tightly sealed container away from humidity (not in the fridge), as it is hydrophilic and will turn into a sticky/crusty mess if moistened.)

These were designed to hold their shape yet remain soft in the middle, with a balance of granulated sugar and powdered sugar that I have spent a long time perfecting. They become just slightly larger after baking so that they will fit fondant cut-outs with a tiny border (a post on this soon). The edges aren't the sharpest cookie edges around, but what kind of maniac expects unnaturally razor-sharp edges on their cookies anyway. 

Included in your recipe will be some tips on rolling techniques, like why you should freeze your dough in sheets rather than chill it in a lump after mixing (it never made any sense to me that most recipes ask you to chill a disk of dough THEN attempt to roll it out once chilled into a crumbling, difficult mess), and why you should bake off your scraps into one giant Malformed Monstercookie instead of rerolling scraps more than twice.

freeze your dough like THIS before cutting out shapes

Buy it here for just two dollars then make yourself a pair of Yeezy Boost 350 to eat.