Tangy Lemon Cookies
I really really really really love lemon. It’s likely I’ve actually started at least one other blog post with that exact same statement. That’s how much I love it. And, I’ve been on the search for quite some time for the “perfect” lemon cookie. I might keep trying because you never know, but I’m happy to say that this one is definitely good enough to be memorialized as my go-to. It relies on a key special ingredient which I love in candy, but never thought to incorporate into lemon desserts.
Citric acid! It’s the stuff that coats sour candies (like my favorite gummy watermelons) to give them that sour kick, so when paired with lemon zest it hits that sweet spot for me - pun definitely intended. It’s pretty inexpensive on Amazon, and you can buy a small bag that will likely be more than you’d ever need. You may be able to find it at some local grocery stores as well.
Adapted from Hummingbird High
MAKES 15-17 Large Cookies
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon citric acid
Zest from 1 lemon
1.5 cups sugar (300g)
Zest from 1 lemon
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
2 large eggs
1.5 teaspoons lemon extract
2.75 cup + 2 Tablespoons AP Flour (350g)
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Yellow food coloring (optional)
2-3 large cookie sheets & parchment paper
Kitchen scale or cookie scoop (optional)
Stir together 1tsp citric acid, 50g sugar (1/4c), and the zest from 1 lemon. Set aside.
In your stand mixer, beat together 300g sugar (1.5c) with the zest from one lemon on medium low for about 2 minutes, until fully combined.
While that’s mixing, whisk your dry ingredients together in a separate bowl: 350g AP Flour (2.75c + 2TB), 2tsp cream of tartar, 1tsp baking soda, and 1tsp kosher salt.
Add 2 sticks of room temperature butter and cream (beat on medium-high) until fully combined and a little fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add 1TB of light corn syrup and beat on high for one minute.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add 2 eggs, and mix on medium-low until combined, then increase speed to medium-high and beat for 5-6 minutes until lightened in color and even fluffier. Stop the mixer once in the middle to scrape down the sides of the bowl, and scrape up from the bottom.
Add 1.5 teaspoons lemon extract and beat until combined.
If you’d like your cookies to be a saturated yellow color, add a few drops of food coloring and mix on low to combine until fully incorporated. Go a bit darker than you’d like as in the next step adding the dry ingredients will lighten the batter.
Add the dry ingredients and mix well on medium-high (starting on low so everything doesn't go poof) for about 30 seconds until completely combined - you may need to scrape down the sides in the middle.
In order to make the cookies look uniform, you need to scoop the batter either with a cookie scoop or by weight - I use a 2” cookie scoop. Scoop the dough balls onto a wax paper or parchment lined cookie sheet - it’s okay if they’re close together; you’re not going to bake them yet.
Coat only the tops and sides of each cookie dough ball in the citric acid/sugar/zest mixture. You don’t want to coat the bottom because it will burn on the cookie sheet if you do. If you’ve used a cookie scoop it will be clear where the “bottom” is, however if you’ve scooped with spoons and rolled the balls in your hands, just press them gently onto the cookie sheet so there’s a flatter side before dipping the rest in the citric acid mix.
If you want to bake them soon, wrap the sheet in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour, preferably two, or up to overnight. If you want to save the dough to bake another day, put the cookie sheet in the freezer (you don’t need to cover it) and 1 hour later transfer the dough balls to a freezer ziplock bag. The dough will keep for up to 6 months, possibly longer.
When you’re ready to bake, heat your oven to 350.
Take out one tray’s worth of cookies and arrange them a minimum of 3” apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. If frozen, let them sit about 5 minutes but no longer.
Bake for 11-12 minutes if the dough has been refrigerated, or 13-14 minutes if you’re baking them from frozen. Don’t overbake! You want the cookies to be just barely browning on the outside/edges, but still thick and chewy in the middle. Or…at least, I do.
Repeat steps 14 & 15 for one sheet of cookies at a time (i.e. don’t take cookie dough balls out of the fridge/freezer until you’re ready to put them on the tray and into the oven.)
Cool the cookies completely on their baking sheets, and enjoy!