These Triple Lemon Sunshine Cookies are light, bright and perfect for your spring and summer gatherings. Perfect for snacking while sitting on the porch sipping ice cold lemonade.
One thing about spring in Pittsburgh is that it’s kind of slow getting out of the gate but then one morning you wake up and everything has buds and blooms on it, the skies are bright blue the Spring Peepers are chirping away. And even though our spring can be a wet one, it still beautiful out. This is the start of showers, parties, cookouts and ballgames. Where the days are longer and you find every excuse in the book to cut out of work early and spend your free time outdoors.
I’m a HUGE lover of lemon flavored stuff especially in the warmer months. It just seems to fit. This cookie originally started off with Mr. Fantabulous requesting lemon bars but full disclosure, they are a pain in the butt to make. Well okay they aren’t hard but I seriously had no time to make them annnnnnnnnnnd I was in a lazy mood.
As I stood in my kitchen, staring at a bowl of lemons I decided to whip up a batch of these cookies. Mom used to make these whenever she had a huge bag of lemons. See Mom didn’t believe in just buying a single lemon for a recipe. No, she had to buy the 5lb bag of lemons as that was supposedly ‘cheaper’ and more cost-effective. Sure it was a few cents cheaper but when money was so tight for us, it was like we were forced to lemon everything for weeks.
These cookies are honestly, really easy to make but you do need to plan ahead for them as the cookie dough absolutely HAS to chill out for at least 4 hours. It’s a super soft dough, even after it’s chilled. Chilling it helps the fats from the cream cheese and butter re-solidify and help prevent the cookies from spreading out like pancakes.
In making these cookies I use lemon 3-ways: fresh lemon juice, the zest and food grade lemon oil. The lemon oil that I use and recommend is from real lemons and doesn’t have that fake taste that some other products have. With the recipe I find just lemon juice and lemon zest wasn’t enough “lemon” flavor. Adding just a trace bit of lemon oil really amps up the lemon flavor giving it that pucker power.
In making these cookies you can do as I did and roll them in confectioners’ sugar BEFORE you bake them to give you that crinkle effect. But if you want to go a different route you could skip the confectioners’ sugar roll and, when they are done, make a thick glaze of the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and cream. Once the cookies are cooled you can just drizzle that on.
So let’s talk about texture. This cookie is soft, almost cake-like with a melt-in-your-mouth feel. We (including my UPS guy who is here daily) loved them. Mr. Fantabulous wanted more pucker power so you could add a bit more lemon zest and oil (just be careful with it) and Chris, our UPS man wanted white chocolate chips in his. However for everyone else, they were perfect but please feel free to put some add-ins if you want. I actually love the idea of white chocolate chips and toasted macadamia nuts.
I have a baby shower, wedding shower and a few spring parties coming up. These cookies will be what I’m bringing for sure. I may change the toppings – spring sprinkles for one thing! I’m also thinking about taking this recipe and making it a bit more citrusy – think lime, grapefruit AND lemon. Maybe orange too!
So a little insight to how my brain works (scary). Even as I’m typing up this post I’m thinking about ‘how can I transform this base recipe into something more?’ For example, I’m thinking if I tweak the recipe just a tad (perhaps more flour and cornstarch) I could get this to turn out like a thumbprint cookie and then, once cooled fill them with lemon curd. I know, right?! That’s what most bloggers do to be honest. Well, most “good” bloggers. We’re always looking how to transform recipes into more items. Kind of like how I said I create “follow on” recipes. Basically I give you a base recipe and then create a series of posts around that recipe of how to use it (with little to no tweaks) into other dishes.
Happy Spring all! Enjoy these delicious cookies!
- 3 cups AP flour, sifted
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoon butter, unsalted and room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, full fat and room temperature
- 1 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 whole Xl egg plus 1 Xl egg yolk
- Zest from 2 whole lemons
- Juice from 2 whole lemons
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil, not extract
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy scraping the down sides if necessary; ~3 minutes. Add in the sugar, whole egg, egg yolk, lemon juice, lemon zest and lemon oil. Beat until well blended scraping down the sides and bottom; 4 minutes.
- With the mixture on low, slowly add in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer, scrape off the paddle and continue to mix with a spatula until fully incorporated. The mixture will be sticky and thick. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (or transfer to another bowl and cover), chill in the fridge overnight.
- When read to bake, heat the oven to 350F, rack in the middle. Line 2 baking trays with parchment; set aside. Using a medium cookie scoop (or 2 heaping tablespoon), roll the dough into a ball and place in the confectioners’ sugar. *TIP: the mixture will be sticky so lightly wet your hands before rolling as that should help prevent the dough from sticking. You may have to repeat often.
- Place the cookie dough 2” apart on the baking tray. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until they have puffed up, the tops are crackled and they are still soft (but not wet) in the middle. Do not overbake! Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Store in an air tight container.
Keywords: lemon cookies. spring desserts, sunshine treats, fresh lemon, wedding shower, sweet treats