Monday, July 2, 2012

Lemon Drop Cookies: Could Sweet and Tangy Be the New Sweet and Salty?

While I love the current trend for sweet and salty flavor combinations (it really doesn’t get much better, or weirder than chocolate-chip bacon cookies) I discovered another worthy flavor duo this week that is well suited to the hot and humid weather currently parked over the northeast; sweet and tangy, married together in this recipe for Lemon Drop Cookies.
It’s a simple recipe for an unfussy cookie, the kind you’d stick in your child’s lunchbox as a toothsome afternoon treat. I came across this recipe, written on a small notecard, in my grandma Helen’s recipe box while visiting her home in North Pittsburgh last week. “That’s a good one,” she told me, nodding.  “The dough calls for sour cream and it makes a rich, sweet cookie. Yum.” 
Lemon is Grandma’s favorite flavor so I consider her the expert on citrus baking. It’s a unique cookie, and I knew I had to share it with you.
The recipe creates a soft, airy dough the consistency of mousse.  You will fear you’ve not added enough flour but don’t despair.  And don’t, out of anxiety, place the bowl in the refrigerator for an hour.  It should be sticky and batter-like.  Remain confident.  Drop rounded teaspoons of the fluffy substance on greased cookie sheets and bake.  When you open the oven door, you will be met with rows of rounded, cake-like cookies and a waft of lemon-scented hot air.
The icing is what really makes this cookie, so be sure to include it.  After it dries, it becomes absorbed by the cookie, making it sweeter and softer still.  Lemon Drops are a refreshing summer afternoon snack, eaten on the back porch with a glass of iced tea.  It’s not one of the traditional Pittsburgh wedding cookies, but I think it would make an adorable addition to a summer wedding.  I’ve been eating these things for days and lunchtime has just arrived.  I know what my dessert will be. 

Helen’s Lemon Drop Cookies
v ½ cup butter
v 1 cup sugar
v 1 cup (8 oz.) regular sour cream
v 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
v 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
v 1 teaspoon baking soda
v ½ teaspoon salt
v ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
v 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
v 2 tablespoons water
v 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
v ¼ teaspoon nutmeg


1 Preheat oven to 350oF

2 In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar at the medium speed of an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Blend in the sour cream and lemon juice, scrapping the bowl often. 

3 Mix in the flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg until well combined.  The dough with be light and airy, like a heavy mousse.

4 Drop rounded teaspoonfuls two inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.   Bake for 14-15 minutes until edges are brown.  Place on wire cooling racks and cool completely.

5 Prepare the icing.  In a small bowl add the powered sugar, water, lemon juice and nutmeg.  Combine with a whisk or a fork.

6 Spread icing on cooled cookies with a butter knife.  Allow icing to dry, about 1 hour, and store in airtight containers.


  1. Oh my gosh these look really tasty. Great post, Lauren!

    1. just found your site and love all the recipes..grew up in PA about 45 mins east of Pittsburgh and quite a few of these recipes remind me of my grandmothers

  2. Thanks Marla, glad you liked it! They really are quite tasty, if I may say so, and easy. Now if I could just stop eating!