This week has been tough. I’m not going to lie. It’s hard for me to write about because I’m not used to talking about systemic racism with friends or family, let alone writing about it for the world to see. (Not like this blog gets many views at all, but still.) I know that I don’t often have to talk about race because I’m not negatively affected by the color of my skin. Which I see as even more of a reason to speak up now.
I don’t want to say the wrong thing. But I don’t want to not say anything. So, I made lemon shortbread cookies with Sesame Street stamps that I got for Christmas as a conversation starter.
Jump to recipe
What is a stamp cookie?
When I got the idea to make stamp cookies, it made me wonder: Are stamp cookies always shortbread cookies? Or can stamp cookies be made with sugar cookie recipes? I think the answer is that stamp cookies can be made with sugar cookie dough or shortbread dough. I didn’t get a clear cut answer. Isn’t that life?
Shortbread vs. sugar cookies
So, what’s the difference between sugar cookies and shortbread cookies? Shortbread cookies generally have a higher flour ratio than sugar cookies. Also, sugar cookies have eggs and shortbread usually does not have eggs.
Sesame Street on racism
Did you watch the Sesame Street/CNN racism town hall on June 6? I watched about two minutes of it with Maggie. She got bored after that. What can I say? It’s just like a news show with real CNN reporters. I don’t expect my one-year-old to sit through a news show. I do hope it was helpful for preschoolers or older kids and parents.
Did you know that Sesame Street was rooted in the Black community of Harlem? The set design and casting were intentional, of course, to relate to their target audience, “the four-year old inner-city black youngster.” I found this Smithsonian article, The Unmistakable Black Roots of Sesame Street, to be a good read.
I’m glad that Sesame Street is still on the air on HBO, but I think it used to be a better. I wish there were more human characters and stories on the show for kids to watch, but now there are more muppets than ever. Sonia Manzano, who played Maria on Sesame Street for four decades, said in The Daily Beast that the 80s were her favorite time on Sesame Street. I want to watch more of those episodes now. I came across this video of Bert and his friend John talking about feelings. I think this is great for little ones.
Instead of being merely discouraged about the racism in our country, I am trying to focus on listening and learning about the issues at hand. I want to have productive conversations as well. More than anything, I want to teach my daughter to love and appreciate people of all backgrounds and to fight for racial and social justice.
These lemon shortbread cookies are a bit sweet and a bit tangy. They are similar to the Girl Scout Lemonades.
Stamped lemon shortbread cookies
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 lemon (1 tsp lemon zest, 1 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Prepare the cookies: Add flour, cornstarch and salt to a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Combine butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Zest the lemon directly into the bowl.nCream the butter mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add vanilla and lemon juice and beat on medium speed until well combined, scraping the bowl a few times as needed.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Scrape the bowl and fold a few times to make sure everything is well combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, and chill until firm, at least 1 hour, and up to 3 days.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut dough in half and let one piece warm up for 30 minutes if it has chilled longer than an hour. Return the other half to the refrigerator. Portion the dough into pieces roughly the size of walnuts (a scant 2 tablespoons/about 35 grams), then roll each piece into a ball between your hands. One at a time, dip a ball of dough into flour and set on work surface. If dough balls soften too much, return them to the refrigerator to firm up for a few minutes. You want it cool, but malleable. Dip cookie stamp in flour, and press down on the ball of dough until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Remove stamp. (If dough sticks to stamp, carefully peel it off. Don’t worry about excess flour as you will brush it off after chilling.) Trim the edges using a 2-inch cookie cutter, and transfer dough rounds to 2 parchment- or silicone mat-lined baking sheets, arranging them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough.
Once you have stamped out all the cookies, knead together the scraps to make a few more. Chill in the freezer until very firm, about 10 minutes. When cold, brush off any excess flour with a dry pastry brush.
Bake until cookies just start to turn golden underneath, 12 to 14 minutes.
Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets, and transfer to a wire rack set over a parchment- or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
1. You may be wondering, does this have to be made with cornstarch? I used cornstarch because I want cookies that would crumble easily so they would be easy for my toddler to eat. This New York Times recipe for stamped citrus shortbread uses cornstarch and I was partially basing my cookie recipe on that. If you don’t want to use cornstarch due to allergies or other reasons, you may be able to use arrowroot flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, or simply replace the cornstarch with more all purpose flour. I haven’t tested the recipe with any of those cornstarch alternatives, so please tell me how it goes if you do.
2. I don’t have a link to the cookie stamps. I got them for Christmas last year and I’m not sure where they were purchased. BoxLunch has them on their website but they look unavailable right now. Of course you could use any other cookie stamps.