All kinds of citrus fruits are in season during the winter and citrus desserts are the perfect antidote to dreary weather, with their bright, sunny flavors. Lemons are typically my go-to citrus for everything from cakes to pies, and meyer lemons in particular make a lovely twist on a classic cookie recipe in these Meyer Lemon Snickerdoodles. The cookies contain the combination of cream of tartar and baking soda that is always found in snickerdoodle recipes, which gives the cookies a slightly crackly top and a surprisingly tender interior underneath a sugary crust. And they deliver lots of lemon in every bite.
Meyer lemons are known for being sweeter and less acidic than other lemons. There is no acid in the lemon oil found in the zest of lemons, but the zest of the meyers still has a much sweeter flavor – though it is no less lemony – than that of regular lemons. To get as much flavor as possible from the zest, I added it to the sugar and butter mixture as I was creaming it. The zest releases even more oil when it is rubbed against the coarse sugar during the creaming process, which translates to a lot of flavor. I was also quite generous with the zest when grating it. Save your lemons to make lemonade or for use in another recipe after zeting.
For cookies that are even more lemony, make a batch of lemon sugar and use it to roll the balls of dough in before baking. It will add crunch to the cookies and an extra burst of citrus. That being said, there is plenty of lemon flavor in the snickerdoodles as-is, so regular sugar is still a great way to finish them off. I made batches of these that use cinnamon sugar, which is traditional for snickerdoodles, and found that they were a very tasty variation on the straight lemon cookie. That said, I preferred the lemon-only option because there was nothing to distract from the citrus. Feel free to make a small batch of cinnamon sugar (or ginger sugar) and roll some of the cookie dough in that so that you have multiple flavors to choose from.
The cookies are delicious right out of the oven and keep well for several days after baking. I recommend storing them in an airtight container once they have cooled to keep them fresh until you’re ready to eat them. You can also halve this recipe if you want a smaller batch of cookies, but I usually go for the full batch because the tend to disappear quickly.
Meyer Lemon Snickerdoodles
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup butter, soft
1 tbsp meyer lemon zest
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda.
In a large bowl, cream together 1 1/2 cups sugar with butter and lemon zest until mixture is fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Blend flour mixture into sugar mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in remaining 1/2 cup sugar (place in a small bowl). Arrange cookies on baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between balls to allow for spreading.
Bake for about 12 minutes, until edges are firm to the touch, but not quite browned. Cool for 3-5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 4 dozen.