The Quest for a Grapefruit Dessert: Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

A few weeks ago, I was recruited to supply some baked goods for a farewell party at the office. I asked about the guest of honor's baked goods preferences, and I was told that he likes grapefruit, strawberries dipped in chocolate, scones, and oatmeal. Since the organizers had planned an afternoon tea, scones were a perfect fit and I knew I could make those without any problem. But I was determined to make a grapefruit dessert as well. Since I had several weeks advance notice of the party, I had some time to test out some recipes beforehand.

While I have made grapefruit cake in the past, for the purposes of this party I wanted to stick to single-serving desserts that wouldn't require any utensils. I made multiple attempts at grapefruit pate de fruit jellies, but I wasn't happy with any of the results (of the four recipes I tried, I achieved the best results using a recipe from Zoe Francois; the jellies had a good texture and appearance, but just were not grapefruit-y enough). Feeling slightly discouraged, I decided to try a Martha Stewart recipe for "Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies."

The cookie batter contains butter, sugar, egg yolks, grapefruit zest, grapefruit juice, all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt. You have to chill the dough before rolling and cutting it. Even after chilling, my dough was quite soft, and I had some problems with the dough sticking. I found both the yield and the baking time supplied in the recipe to be wholly inaccurate (my cookies were done baking in about 13 minutes, not 18-20; I also got over three dozen 2-inch sandwich cookies instead of the specified yield of 15).

After the cookies are baked and cooled, you sandwich them around a filling made from butter, powdered sugar, honey, and grapefruit juice. While several of the comments on the Martha Stewart website complained that the filling was too soft, I didn't have any problems with the consistency.

I thought that this cookie was wonderful. It was sweet on the front end, but tart on the back end. The cookies themselves were crisp and hard -- but I think the firm texture helped them stand up to the filling without becoming soggy (I kept some filled cookies in the refrigerator, and even after several days, the cookies were still crunchy). Notwithstanding the fact that the cookies tasted great, I was hugely disappointed that they didn't taste like grapefruit; no one who tasted them could tell that they were made with grapefruit. While the cookie definitely had a bright, citrusy, acidic character, the precise flavor was very hard to pin down. To me, the flavor tasted like kumquat, especially the strong lingering sourness.

I absolutely would be happy to make (and eat!) these cookies again, but I decided that they were not the right choice for the party, since the guest of honor was unlikely to realize that they contained grapefruit. Fortunately, I subsequently learned that the guest of honor also likes coconut -- and that opened up a whole world of additional baking possibilities!

Still, I'm grateful to have discovered this recipe, because grapefruit flavor or not, these are tasty little cookies -- perfect for an afternoon tea or any time!

Recipe: "Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies/Pink Grapefruit Cream Filling" from Martha Stewart.

Previous Post: "Mother Nature's Sweetest Gift of Winter: Grapefruit Cake," January 26, 2010.


AngelaO said…
Cook's Country has a recipe called Texas Pink Grapefruit Bars. They look similar to lemon bars. I'd be glad to email you the recipe if you are interested.
Louise said…
I think I'd like to try these sandwich cookies using orange instead of pink grapefruit. I'm not opposed to grapefruit, but I love orange.
I had been thinking about substituting grapefruit for lemon in a lemon bar recipe and seeing what happens... I will have to try that!