Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

I’ve mentioned quite a few times how much I love all things citrus, and it’s true, though I’ve never discussed the one exception. Grapefruit. It all stems from an experience I had as a kid. I slept over a friend’s house and the next morning we bounded downstairs for breakfast. Imagine my surprise when breakfast wasn’t cereal or waffles, but half a grapefruit. Yikes! It wasn’t something I’d ever had before, and though I tried to be polite, I was not a fan – it was simply too bitter for me. I went home hungry, and convinced I would never eat grapefruit again. And I didn’t, for over 15 years.

Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

Recently, I decided it was probably time to give it another try. There are tons of other foods I didn’t like as a kid that I now eat. Why not grapefruit? I was inspired, in part, by Shawnda whose love of grapefruit is unlike any I’ve ever seen. She’s incorporated it in quite a few recipes – both savory and sweet, but I decided to play it safe and start with cookies. If I didn’t like grapefruit with lots of butter and sugar in the mix, I probably wasn’t going to like it any other way :)

The grapefruit flavor is infused into both the cookies and the filling in these little sandwiches using the zest and juice of the grapefruit. The recipe called for a Ruby Red grapefruit, but I wound up using a Texas Rio Star, which was a vibrant shade of reddish-pink inside and (according to some articles I’ve read) among the sweetest types of grapefruit. I halved the recipe in case I didn’t like the cookies, but I’m definitely regretting that decision. They were delicious – slightly crumbly and chewy with a sweet pink buttercream in the middle. I may be changing my stance on grapefruit :) I’m already trying to decide what I can make next with the leftover grapefruit half.

Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies
adapted from Martha Stewart and Confections of a Foodie Bride

Cookies
zest of 1 Ruby Red grapefruit
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup freshly squeezed juice Ruby Red grapefruit juice

Filling
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons Ruby Red grapefruit zest
3 tablespoons Ruby Red grapefruit juice
1 tiny drop red food coloring (optional)

Whisk the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Combine the zest and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Rub the zest and sugar together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter to the mixing bowl, and cream the butter and sugar mixture on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add egg yolks, and beat until combined. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the juice, and beat until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and shape into a 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until for 30 minutes, or until firm.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Working on a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thick. Use a 2-inch cookie cutter, dipping in flour, to cut out as many rounds as possible. Transfer the rounds to the baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them. Reroll the scraps and repeat to get as many rounds as possible.

Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, or until just barely golden around the edges. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for a few minutes, then remove them to the rack to cool completely.

To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar and zest on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the juice and food coloring (if using) and beat until smooth and creamy.

Match the cookies in pairs by size. Spread (or pipe, which is my preferred method) 2-3 teaspoons of filling onto the flat side of half of the cookies. Top each pair with its mate, and gently press to push the filling out to the edges. Store the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Makes about 18 sandwich cookies