Lemon buttercream filling helps these soft gingersnaps stand out from the crowd

A few weeks ago, we were utterly charmed by the father-daughter duo of Lily and Les Canter, who had the biggest smiles on their faces when they came to the Statesman on our cookie contest day.

Lily and Les Canter goof around while they enjoy Lily's gingersnap cookies with lemon filling, which were a finalist in the Austin360 Holiday Cookie Contest. Mark Matson / For the American-Statesman

Lily and Les Canter goof around while they enjoy Lily’s gingersnap cookies with lemon filling, which were a finalist in the Austin360 Holiday Cookie Contest. Mark Matson / For the American-Statesman

They were in the office to show off 15-year-old Lily’s lemon frosting-filled gingersnap cookie sandwiches, and these cookies, I tell you, were a near-winner for the whole contest.

They aren’t too gingery and are just divine with the lemon filling, which is a somewhat new addition to the cookie in the Canter household and one that turns it into a sandwich.

Lily is the youngest of four kids in this active Austin family, and she started baking more seriously a few years ago. Dad is in charge of mixing together the dry ingredients and helps devour the results.

Some notes: Make sure you chill the dough well before baking, and Lily mixes the dough by hand in the pot in which she melts the butter.

Father-Daughter Gingersnaps with Lemon Filling

For the cookie:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cloves
2 cups sugar, divided
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 large egg
For the filling:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter (3/4 stick), at room temperature
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest (from 1 medium lemon)
1 Tbsp. lemon extract
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)

Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over low heat. Cool to tepid. While the butter is cooling, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and cloves. Set aside.

Using a wooden spoon, stir 1 1/2 cups of the sugar, the molasses and egg into butter, mixing until smooth. Add the dry ingredients, one-half at a time, and blend well. Cover with wax paper and chill for 30 to 45 minutes, until firm.

Heat oven to 375 degrees and butter two cookie sheets. Shape dough into 1-inch balls between the palms of your hands. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in a shallow dish and roll the balls of dough in the sugar. Place the balls 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 9 minutes. Let cool.

To make the filling: Place the powdered sugar, butter and zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until the mixture looks crumbly. Gradually increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the lemon extract and juice and beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute more. Spread a thin layer between two cooled cookies and then serve. Makes about 20 cookie sandwiches.

— From Lily Canter

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