Gateau Cookies

A soft lemon cookie, filled with orange marmalade and topped with icing.

Source: Betty Crocker Cooky Book… a very old one, from the 1960’s, I think.

Yield: varies widely.  I ended up with about 3 dozen, but it could easily have been more.

I was looking for something new and fun to try, so I went diving into my mother-in-laws old cook books.  (Don’t be surprised if I post more recipes from this source!) I will say that this is by far and away the fussiest, the fanciest, the most fragile cookie I have ever made.  I am not a person with a passion for tedium, so these cookies tested my patience.  The fact that I made them at 11:00 pm while in a bad mood didn’t help.  The results, however, were better than I expected.  Quite delicious!

One of the main reasons I decided to make this cookie this week was one of the ingredients, the orange marmalade.  I never, and I mean never, have orange marmalade in the house.  I like it okay, but the rest of my family flatly refuses to eat it.  I don’t think I have ever even purchased it.  But, a friend of mine gave me a jar of homemade orange marmalade and I have been enjoying it in small doses for several weeks now.  I thought, if I am ever going to make this cookie, I ought to do it now, while I know I have marmalade to use.  I won’t lie… a piece of me was sad to see it go into a cookie.  I means no more marmalade for toast or crackers.  But it found an excellent home, so I couldn’t stay sad long.

Start by mixing the first 6 ingredients together until light and fluffy.  I actually started with the butter and sugar, and let those mix for a couple minutes before adding in the egg and cream cheese.  I continued mixing and added in the lemon.  All in all, it’s best to mix these for as much as 5 minutes to get the nice fluffy consistency that we’re looking for.

Then add in the salt, soda, baking powder, and flour.  As always, be sure not to overmix once the flour is added.  Then you wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it.  I was surprised when I was done mixing the dough how soft it was.  Normally, cookies that are rolled and cut before baking have a bit stiffer texture.  The chilling, in this case, is not at all optional.  It took about 3-4 hours before my dough was stiff enough to roll.

The instructions Betty Crocker gives tell us to cut the chilled dough in fourths and work one section at a time, while letting the other sections continue to chill.  This sounds so fussy to me.  I learned the hard way that this is one instruction best followed.  As the dough warms up, it softens up and becomes very difficult to work with.  So, flour your surface well, and start rolling your chilled dough.

Here was another problem for me.  The instructions say to cut the cookies into 1″ circles.  ONE INCH?  Really?  That is so tiny.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t own a round cookie cutter that small.  I’ve never even seen one, although I’m sure they exist.  I do have some very small holiday cookie cutters, but I didn’t think stars or stockings or gingerbread men were really right for this cookie.  I pulled out a small cookie cutter of my daughters, something that came from a kids baking set, and looks like a flower.  But, when I measured it, it was about 2″.

Search… search… search….  I finally came up with this brilliant (sort of) idea:

Yes, it is the lid from a 2 liter bottle of soda.  It would have worked great if it was just the ring without a top, so I could push the dough out.  If you follow in my footsteps and use this highly unusual tool, I recommend flouring it really well before dipping into the dough.

Well, the lid worked.  It made these cute and very very small little discs of dough.  You then put about 1/4 tsp of marmalade in the center of the dough, and sandwich that with another circle of dough.  Here are the problems with that:  the marmalade by nature has orange rind in it.  If your marmalade has big, chunky piece of rind like mine did, putting just 1/4 tsp on this tiny little cookie is pretty tough.  I basically ended up picking around the rind in my marmalade jar.  Also, this dough, even when chilled has a tendency to be very soft and fragile, so work quickly and carefully.  Use your fingers to squeeze the edges of the two dough discs together and place them on a baking sheet.  They don’t really spread much, so you can put quite a lot of them onto one sheet.  If you have the patience for that sort of thing, which I didn’t.  This was about the point at which I swore I would never make this cookie again.

This is how far I got before I ran out of patience with it.  I baked these for about 8 1/2 minutes at 350.  After they came out, and I had a taste test, I decided to try the slightly larger 2″ flower shaped cookie cutter.  They certainly made for faster work.

Plus, the flower shape was so sweet!  Which I thought was very appropriate for this particular recipe.  Incidentally, the larger cookie had a slightly longer baking time, about 10 minutes.

I was saving the leftover pieces of dough into a big ball that I could roll out later, but as it sat on the counter it got very soft and basically impossible to roll.  Then, I ran out of marmalade to fill them with.  And, since it was pushing midnight, I wimped out and chucked the end of the dough unbaked.  If I had it to do over, I would have made the cookies and just baked them without filling.  They would still be delicious with just the icing.

Once the cookies are cool, frost them with tinted icing.

So, I found this recipe to be pretty small.  It didn’t make nearly enough icing.  I always prefer cream or milk over water, and I opted for milk.  I used 2 T of milk, which made the icing way too thin.  I added another 1/2 cup or more of powdered sugar to compensate.  I intended to add just one drop of blue food coloring, but accidentally added 2 drops.  This made the icing a little darker than I really wanted.  The nice thing about homemade frosting or icing is how versatile it is.  If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar.  Too thick, add more milk.  It’s very forgiving.  This icing was a little on the thin side, which is good.  You don’t have to get too fancy with how the icing is spread, because it will melt and run a little, and it makes it smooth out and look very professional.

Be sure to let the icing dry and harden a little before stacking the cookies between layers of wax paper in an airtight container.

To tell you the truth, I was a little skeptical about this cookie because it has lemon rind in the dough, plus the rind in the marmalade.  Sometimes rind can give an interesting flavor that is not always amazing.  After cutting these tiny little one-inch cookies, and dealing with dough that gets soft or tears easily, I was thinking they were not worth it.  Then, I tasted them.  And let me tell you, they are worth it!  They are super delicious.  They taste way better than I imagined they would.  I have reconsidered my vow to never make them again.

They are fussy, for sure, but they would look so cute at a tea party or something springy and girly.  The sweetness in the icing overpowers the citrus flavors, but doesn’t overtake them entirely.  I even enjoyed the un-iced variety.  I’m sure when you make these, you will find like I did that they are worth the effort!

Gateau Cookies
Cook time
Total time
A small, soft cookie filled with orange marmalade and topped with icing.
Serves: 3-5 dozen
  • ⅔ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp soda
  • orange marmalade
  • ICING:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 T water or 1½ T cream
  • 1 drop food coloring
  1. Whip together butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes. Add egg, cream cheese, lemon juice and rind, and continue whipping for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients and add slowly, mixing gently just until incorporated.
  3. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill for 3-4 hours or longer.
  4. Divide chilled dough in fourths. Roll one section on a floured surface, returning un-rolled portions to the refrigerator to continue to chill.
  5. Cut into 1-inch or 2-inch circles.
  6. Place ¼ - ½ tsp of orange marmalade on a circle, and top with another dough circle. Use your fingers to press the edges together. Transfer to a baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes (1-inch cookies) or 10-11 minutes (2-inch cookies.)
  8. Remove to cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  9. For icing, mix all ingredients together well in a mixing bowl. Add more powdered sugar or more water if necessary to get desired consistency.
  10. Frost with tinted icing. Allow icing to set up for 30-60 minutes before storing in an airtight container between layers of wax paper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: