With desserts, we all have our tried-and-true types that we absolutely adore eating.
But the sweet-and-sour savants like a bit of crazy with their grub. They’re living on the precipice of extreme: a subtle sugary goodness, paired with a mischievous edge of something very sour.
These cookies are for you, my dessert daredevils.
With a powerful combo of fresh lemon zest and juice, these cookies slap you in the mouth with bright, bold flavors. The tartness is obviously mouth puckering, in the best way possible.
Don’t be scared, though. All this is lovingly balanced by a perfect sweetness. And these buttery creations are so soft and creamy, they just melt in your mouth as you bite in.
Ready for a roller coaster of fresh flavor and sweetness? The recipe is below!Print
With fresh lemon zest and juice, these cookies have bold flavors, balanced by a subtle sweetness and soft, creamy texture.
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3–4 lemons)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter with the lemon zest on medium-low speed until creamy and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and salt, and continue creaming for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Blend in the egg yolks, mixing until just combined. Pour in the lemon juice and the vanilla, and continue to mix until just combined.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three additions, mixing just until blended. The dough will be soft and sticky. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover, and chill for one hour.
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Remove the dough from the fridge. Using a floured cookie scoop or floured hands, scoop out the dough into even portions onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Place the dough portions about an inch apart from each other. Using the heel of your hand, very gently flatten each ball just slightly.
- Bake the cookies for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they look puffy and the edges are lightly golden brown, but the tops are still very light. Remove the cookies from the oven, and let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer to cooling racks.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15-18 minutes
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Measure and Prep
Measure and sift together the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, cake flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda.
Don’t really know the difference between all-purpose and cake flour? We can help you learn the different kinds of flour.
Measure the room temperature unsalted butter. If it’s still cold, microwave the sticks briefly for just a few seconds until softened.
Prep two sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Step 2 – Cream
Using an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the room temperature butter with the lemon zest on medium-low speed until creamy and lightened in color.
Add the sugar and salt, and continue creaming for 1 to 2 minutes. It will be light and fluffy.
Step 3 – Add the Liquid Ingredients
Blend the egg yolks into the butter and sugar mixture until the yolks are just combined.
With the blender still running, pour in the lemon juice and the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if you need to. The mixture will look very liquidy and lumpy.
Step 4 – Add the Dry Ingredients
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three additions, mixing just until blended. Do not overmix, or the final texture will be tough.
The dough is going to be very soft and sticky. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover, and chill for one hour. The dough will harden enough to be scooped and shaped in the next step.
Step 5 – Scoop and Shape
Heat the oven to 350°F. Remove the dough from the fridge.
Using an ice cream or cookie scoop, scoop out the dough in even portions onto the prepared sheet pans. To make transferring it out of the scooper easier, lightly dust the inside of it with extra flour.
Place the cookies about an inch apart from each other. Dip the heel of your hand in flour, and very gently flatten each ball just slightly. The cookies will spread a little as they bake, so don’t flatten them too hard.
Step 6 – Bake
Bake them for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they look puffy and the edges are lightly golden brown, but the tops are still very light in color.
Remove the cookies from the oven, and let stand for 5 minutes. Then you can transfer them to cooling racks. Enjoy while still warm for the ultimate melt-in-your-mouth experience, or wait to eat until cooled completely.
Take a Bold, Zesty Dare for Dessert
Even if you’re a chocolate lover or a berry enthusiast, you should still try these lovely, lemony morsels for a fresh change from your usual favorites.
If the fresh citrusy flavor isn’t enough to tempt you, I bet the rich, buttery flavor of the dough will.
To take these to the next level of boldness, consider topping them off with crunchy turbinado sugar before baking. Or get even more sweet-and-sour fun with a marmalade glaze, like the one we use in our recipe for fluffy yogurt cake.
For another tangy and delicious treat that’s also healthy, make our vegan lemon bars with a creamy cashew filling and nut and date crust.
Or if you’re looking for more tasty cookie ideas, then try out some of these delectable morsels:
How do you like to play with sweet and sour in your desserts? What do you think of making these cookies with either limes or oranges instead of lemons? We’ll be happy to read all your tangy comments below! And please rate this recipe down in the comments section.
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Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on February 13th, 2009. Last updated: December 30, 2019 at 21:12 pm.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is a full-time cheesemonger and specialty foods buyer living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.