Ultimate Spring Cookies – Lemon Berry Cream Cookies!
Spring is here! Spring is fresh, new, bright, and just SO cheery! We are watching the trees budding in our yard in eager anticipation of the fresh green leaves and abundant white and pink flowers. The deep purple and blue of the crocuses are shimmering in our flower beds and the bright yellow daffodils are bright spots of color as we walk through the neighborhood to get on the wooded trails. Even the forest wants to celebrate spring with a carpet of bright yellow, purple, and pink flowers. Well, If I am surrounded by the hope of spring outside, I want to bring that bright celebration inside as well. Refreshing a cookie recipe from my childhood, I created the brightest and cheeriest of Easter and spring cookies – Lemon Berry Cream Cookies!
Okay enough of that – I won’t wax and wane poetically anymore. After all, you are here for Spring Cookies – so let’s talk COOKIES!
Background of these spring cookies
I have mentioned the fantastic Cookie Collection recipe book by Land O’Lakes from my childhood before, and I am going to mention it again. This recipe book has some incredible cookie recipes.
One of the cookies we made around this time of year was the Tea-Time Sandwich Cookies that we turned into spring cookies by tinting the buttercream filling cheery spring colors. As wonderful as these delicate and buttery cookies are, I wanted to not only see spring in the cookie but taste it! Plain buttercream filling wasn’t calling my name. I needed more flavor!
What makes spring cookies bright?
My first thought when I was brightening these cookies for spring was to add lemon to the cookie. I know that isn’t unheard of, lemon is a popular flavor (although still underrepresented in my opinion). However, I added the lemon zest to not only the cookie itself, but the sugar the cookie is coated in as well. The lemon raised this dainty cookie to an entirely new flavor level. I could eat the cookie just like this as a flaky delicate lemon bite – and I did!
However, I know many people enjoy a sweeter aspect to a cookie, such as a filling or frosting – something to make cookies scream, “I’m a delicious treat!” Well, these cookies were just politely whispering “delicious” at this point.
Berry Good Filling for Spring Cookies
I knew I needed to keep the luscious buttercream filling that makes these cookies the expected sweet treat. But the buttercream wasn’t wowing me for a spring flavor, and I wanted to have some bright cheery colors represented as well as a pop of flavor. How to add flavor and have the additional bonus of natural spring colors? Add freeze-dried berry powder! Blueberry and strawberry creamy filling to complement the lemon cookie – absolutely!
These small, dainty cookies pack a PUNCH of bright spring flavor! The nice thing about making your own frosting for the filling though is you can decide if you want them to be soft and subdued in color and flavor (just don’t add much of the freeze-dried berry powders), or if you really want the bright colors and robust fruit flavor (add more of the powders). Voila – spring cookies for any occasion.
The blueberry powder colors the frosting darker as you do need to add more of it to get a strong blueberry flavor. The strawberry powder, on the other hand, gives you the benefit of concentrated strawberry flavor, so you don’t need as much powder to really taste the full bite of strawberry.
How to make berry powder?
The easiest way to make a simple berry powder is to dump your freeze-dried berries into a good food processor. (This is the food processor I use for EVERYTHING and couldn’t do without it.) If you don’t have a food processor, you can also use a blender.
Now if you have some extra energy or frustration, or need an activity for your kiddos, you can also put the freeze-dried berries into a strong zip-top bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into a fine powder. This method won’t be quite as fine, but it should still work – and you can count it for your daily arm workout. This means you get an extra cookie.
I crushed the fruit a single flavor at a time, but if you want them mixed – that would be good, too – you’d get purple!
So Berry Many Options for Spring Cookie Flavors
Why aren’t there more baking recipes with freeze-dried fruit? So much flavor without all the added moisture. The baking world is now open to endless possibilities of added flavor AND color!
Also, don’t let my suggestions of which fruit to use hold you back. With so many freeze-dried fruit options, like this variety of blueberry, strawberry, mango, and raspberry, there are endless delicious possibilities! Although I’m not sure I want to venture into mixing cantaloupe into baked goods. If you try that, let me know. Don’t offer any to me, just let me know. 😉
Spring cookies need creamy berry filling!
This berry buttercream filling is flexible and adjustable to suit your personal taste. As I mentioned above you can vary the flavors of fruit you choose. (Although, I do highly recommend blueberry and strawberry at least once!) You can also vary the color and flavor intensity of the creamy berry filling by choosing how much berry powder to add.
To compensate for adding different amounts of dried powder, you just add small amounts of whipping cream until your buttercream is a nice spreadable, but not too soft consistency. Also, slowly add small amounts of cream at a time while mixing, so your buttercream doesn’t do funny things like separate. (The horrors! Although if this does happen to you here are some tips to try and save it.)
I piped the buttercream on for the pictures. Don’t be me. Just spread a thin layer of buttercream in-between the two lemon cookies after they are completely cooled. With the amount of flavor from the berry buttercream, you only need a thin layer to achieve spring cookie flavor and texture perfection!
How to roll out the sticky dough?
Now don’t leave on account of the sticky cookie dough. The dough COULD be tricky to work with, except I have all my tips to make it easy for you.
You don’t want to add a ton of extra flour to try and make the dough not stick to your working surface, it will make for less tender cookies. Instead, take two pieces of wax paper that are the size of a cookie sheet. Lay one piece of wax paper on the cookie sheet and place half of the cookie dough on the wax paper. Cover the dough with the second piece of wax paper. Then gently press the dough out with your hands, and then use a rolling pin to roll the dough to 1/8” to 1/4” thick.
If you have sides on your cookie sheets, never fear, just place the wax paper on your work surface and roll the dough into a shape that will fit on your cookie sheet or flat in your fridge. (Do you see where we are going with this yet?) Yes, place your cookie dough flat in the fridge to cool while you are rolling out your second half of dough.
Repeat with second half of the cookie dough.
If you have patience, try to let your dough chill for 2 hours before cutting it out. If you want those cookies NOW, then at least let your dough chill for 15 mins or so for workability. However, the 2 hours does work best.
How to use cookie cutters with soft dough
Now that you have both halves of your dough rolled out and chilled or slightly chilled (start with your first half) you can remove the top layer of wax paper. Then cut out your shapes directly on the bottom layer of wax paper. (Pick some smaller cookie cutters to cut shapes with, ideally around 1” to 2″. These cookies do better as smaller, couple bite-sized, shapes.) Don’t attempt to remove the cut cookies at this point. Press the cookie cutter in and out so your cookie shapes are outlined in the dough. Exchange your cut out dough with your dough in the fridge.
Once your second cookie sheet is cut out and back in the fridge cooling, have your lemon zest sugar ready, as well as your parchment paper-lined cookie sheet for baking. Remove the cookies from the first cookie sheet with a thin metal spatula, or with your careful fingers (if you aren’t clumsy like me) and gently press both sides of the cookie in the lemon sugar before placing the cut out on the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
Continue with the remaining cut outs and second half of dough. Place the dough back in the fridge for a couple of minutes if it becomes too sticky to work with.
Once all your cut cookies are on the parchment-lined cookie sheet, you can ball up the remaining dough and re-roll and cut. Rinse and repeat, oh sorry, roll and repeat? Try to not handle the dough too much as the more you handle it, the tougher the cookies become.
Spring cookie joy
These Lemon Berry Cream Cookies are a joy to look at, and as a cookie should be, they are a joy to eat! These beautiful spring cookies will wow you with their surprising pop of bright lemon and berry flavor and a delicate, melt-in-your-mouth structure.
Whew, that was a long one. Enjoy your (TOTALLY WORTH IT) spring cookies!
More Delicious Spring Treat to Enjoy
- Cookie Ingredients
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Zest of 2 lemons, divided
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1/3 cup whipping cream
- Granulated sugar for coating
- Cream Filling Ingredients
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs butter, room temperature
- 3/4 - 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 - 1 cup freeze-dried blueberries or 1-4 Tbs of blueberry powder*
- 1/2 - 1 cup freeze-dried strawberries or 1-3 Tbs of strawberry powder*
- Pinch of salt
- 1-3 Tbs of heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- In a large bowl whisk together flour and zest of one lemon until fragrant, or zest is incorporated. Add butter and whipping cream and mix on low until well mixed, about 2-3 minutes, scraping bowl as needed.
- Separate dough into halves and place each half on a wax paper lined baking sheet, and cover with second piece of wax paper. Roll dough through the waxed paper out to 1/4" to 1/8" thick. Place cookie sheets with rolled out dough still inside the wax paper in the fridge. If you have patience, try to let your dough chill for 2 hours before cutting it out. If you want those cookies NOW, then at least let your dough chill for 15 mins or so for workability. However, the 2 hours does work best.
- Either 15 minutes or 2 hours later, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Make lemon sugar for coating cookie dough by whisking together about 1/2 cup of granulated sugar with zest of 1 lemon until fragrant.
- Take first half of dough out and remove top layer of wax paper. Using a 1"-2" cookie cutter, cut cookies out of dough, but leave them in place if too soft to handle, and place back in fridge to chill until firmer. (See post for a more detailed explanation.)
- Repeat with second half of dough.
- While dough is cool, use a metal spatula (or your careful fingers) to remove firm cookie cutouts and gently press both sides into the lemon sugar. Lay on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Repeat with remaing cookies.
- When all that is left are dough scraps, gently gather together and press gently until combined and then roll out between two pieces of wax paper again, chilling as needed for firm dough.
- Bake cookies for 6-10 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. Cookies are done when they puff up and the edges have just the faintest hint of brown.
- Cool for a couple minutes on the cookie sheet, and then cool completely on wire racks.
- While cookies are cooling you can make your berry powder from your selected freeze dried fruit.*
- Make your berry buttercream filling by mixing your room temperature butter in a medium mixing bowl until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the powder sugar a little at a time mixing on low until it is all incorporated. Add vanilla and salt and mix until smooth and well combined.
- If you are wanting to make two separate filling flavors, divide the frosting in half and mix each half respectively. Add 1 Tbs of your selected berry powder at a time; mix well after each addition. Add as much berry powder as you prefer, depending on taste and fruit type. I used around 3-4 Tbs of blueberry and only 1-2 Tbs of strawberry. Mix until combined. Your frosting will be fairly thick depending on how much berry powder you added.
- Add cream, a small drizzle at a time mixing in-between, until your frosting has reached a smooth spreadable but not too soft consistency. I found I had to use more with the blueberry than the strawberry - related to the amount of berry powder added. Be sure to slowly add cream so your frosting doesn't separate from too much cold cream at once.
- When cookies are completely cooled, spread a thin layer of creamy berry filling on one cookie, and top with a second cookie. I piped the filling for the pictures (because, well, pretty!), but truly it was a bit much filling for the dainty cookies. All you need is a small spread of the flavorful filling to achieve perfection!
- These delicious spring cookies can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 days, but then I like to refrigerate them to keep them fresh. Just sit them out to warm up at room temp for a few minutes and they will be melt-in-your-mouth delicious!
- Feel free to try different flavor options, see notes for more suggestions.**
*To make powder, place freeze-dried fruit into a food processor or blender and process until it resembles a fine powder. If you don't have either of those, put the freeze-dried berries into a strong zip-top bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into a fine powder. This method won’t be quite as fine, but it will still work.
**Don’t let my suggestions of which fruit to use hold you back. With so many freeze-dried fruit options, like this variety of blueberry, strawberry, mango, and raspberry, there are endless delicious possibilities! However, try the blueberry and strawberry at least once, they are incredible and completely spring!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 166Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 80mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 2g
This information was obtained using an ingredient calculator to provide an idea of nutritional value. To obtain the most accurate numbers for nutrition information of any recipe, you should figure the nutritional information with the ingredients you used in the recipe. Each individual user is responsible for making sure that any nutritional information used is correct.