I know the calendar says that spring has started already, but I have my doubts. It’s snowed twice in the last week here in Cleveland, and there’s no end in sight yet. With that in mind, I am taking it upon myself to bring elements of spring into my life, from brightly colored dresses, to butterfly wall stickers, to (you guessed it) fruity cookies. I’ve been waiting eagerly for awhile now to share these lemon cookies with you (about as impatiently as Cookie Monster in this commercial), and this past snowy weekend seemed like the perfect time to test them out. Here’s to sunnier days ahead!
These are actually a variation of these peppermint cookies I make throughout the winter holidays. I substituted Lemonheads (the small ones, not the large, individually-wrapped kind) for the peppermint candies and lemon juice and zest for the peppermint extract. (You could probably substitute any lemon hard candies you like if you don’t like or can’t find Lemonheads, but I personally had a hard time finding anything that wasn’t sugar-free.) I couldn’t decide between using more crushed Lemonheads or sprinkles for a topping, so I tried both. If I really had to decide, I think I’d pick the sprinkles because they’re more visually appealing, and also more versatile. There are so many to choose from!
One important note: make sure you store these cookies in an airtight container (if there are any left), because I know from previous experience that if you leave them out too long, they turn into little cookie rocks. In the interest of keeping your teeth firmly where they belong, be sure to heed this warning.
You will need the following ingredients:
For the cookies:
- 2½ sticks unsalted butter, very softened
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- grated zest of 1 lemon (approximately 1 Tbsp.)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup crushed Lemonheads
- ½ cup granulated sugar, or as needed
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 2½ Tbsp. water
- ½ Tbsp. lemon juice
- ¼ cup crushed Lemonheads or sprinkles of choice (optional)
For baking ambiance:
- Jim Croce songs seem to keep coming up in my life lately (see the Cookie Monster commercial above), so it seemed only natural to go with that flow. Just make sure that Time in a Bottle is playing while the cookies are in the oven! 😉
Let’s get baking!
Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease your cookie sheets or line them with aluminum foil.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until you have a very smooth mixture. It helps to have your butter extra soft (but not melted). It may be crumbly at first, but just keep going and you’ll eventually get there.
Next, beat in the egg, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until smooth, about 3 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir this into the wet ingredients, approximately one third at a time, until a dough forms.
Stir in the crushed Lemonheads until they’re evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Put the granulated sugar in a small bowl. Using a cookie scoop (or your hands if you don’t have one), form the dough into small balls. Roll each dough ball in the sugar to completely coat it and arrange them on the prepared cookie sheets about 1″ apart.
Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until the bottoms just begin to brown (you will see it at the very edge of the cookies).
Leave the cookies to cool for at least 5 minutes (preferably10-15) on the cookie sheets, then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely once they are solid enough to transfer without breaking.
When your cookies are fully cooled, prepare the glaze. Stir together the remaining powdered sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small bowl until a smooth icing forms. If it’s too thick for your liking, add a few drops of water at a time and stir it well to thin it out.
Spread the glaze on the cookies, then immediately decorate with crushed Lemonheads or sprinkles.
Keep the cookies stored in an airtight container to prevent them from turning into colorful rocks.
You can download the printable PDF recipe here: Lemonhead Cookies