I don’t know about you guys, but summer is pretty much in full swing in the Caribbean. The frangipani are exploding with color again, and the pool has warmed up with the hot sun. Best of all, our lime tree is heavy with bright green, fragrant limes. I’ve never had a fruit tree in my yard before, and I gotta say, I love it. There’s nothing quite like walking into your back yard and picking fresh fruit to bite into right then and there, or to cook with later on. We’ve had beautiful vegetable gardens before – we even grew watermelons once, but never fruit trees. Our Caribbean experience has taught me that I want to have fresh fruit growing in my garden some day.
The first thing that I’ve made with the first limes of the season is one of the best things I’ve made in a while. These are lemon lime sugar cookies that I’ve coated in a zesty lemon lime sugar…or Summer Citrus Sparkles. See? Cause they sparkle. From the sugar. Alright, I just like the cutesy name, but they do sparkle a little bit.
These are mild, basic sugar cookies that I spruced up with fresh lemon and lime zests and juices. The cookie itself is sweet and mild, with just a hint of lemon-lime taste, while the sugar adds a sweet, zesty pop of flavor to each bite. I made two different versions of these – one was simple, fast, and easy while the other was … simple, fast, and easy. Seriously, both versions really are all those things, but the second version has a glaze involved, so there’s a tiny amount of cooking. It is so very worth it, though! I love the glaze version. It’s not an icing, but rather a fine syrup that you brush on the cookies before dipping them into the citrus sugar. Holy yum, it”s good!
The star ingredients for the cookies are all-purpose flour, unsalted butter (at room temperature), an egg, vanilla extract, sugar, finely grated lime and lemon zests, baking soda, baking powder, salt, fresh lime juice, and fresh lemon juice. Check out the vegan/dairy free substitutions in the recipe below.
The secret to making these sparkle, and to the big citrusy flavor, is in the citrus sugar. It’s just regular sugar (I mixed in a dash of yellow and a sprinkle of green sanding sugar for fun) combined with finely grated lime and lemon zests. If you feel like investing an extra 10 minutes into making these, you’ll need a little extra sugar and some fresh lemon and lime juices for the sweet and sour glaze.
The cookies smell so good when they come out of the oven…it’s incredibly difficult not to start snacking on them right away (but I learned that they taste much better, once cooled, than they do while hot).
This is such an excellent summer cookie recipe. The cookies are crisp, sweet, and zesty on the outside and soft and light with a mild citrus flavor inside. They’re fast and easy to make, too, so you won’t be slaving away in a hot kitchen with them.
I prefer to make these using the glazed variation that I included below, but it is slightly more time consuming (an additional 10 minutes or so in front of the stove), so you can skip it for the easier, but still just as tasty version.
Since it’s been so hot here already, I decided to pair the cookies with some fresh lemon-lime ice water. Wowee, it was good. It’s just too hot for coffee or tea with these right now, and milk can be so heavy in summer weather. The lemon-lime water was a great complement and perfectly refreshing.
Whether you make the simple, sugar-coated version of these, or the ever-so-slightly less simple glazed and sugar-coated version, you won”t be disappointed. If a cookie can be described as refreshing, then these are the cookies to earn the description. They only take about 15 minutes to make, plus a 30 minutes chill time and a 10 to 15 minute bake time, so you can easily make them at the last minute. They keep well in a covered container for several days too. Just one warning: they’re so delicious, and so easy to make and eat, you might have trouble sharing. Enjoy!
Summer Citrus Sparkles
Makes 2 dozen
FOR THE CITRUS SUGAR (excellent in tea!)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
FOR THE COOKIES
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (for vegan/dairy free, replace with 1 tablespoon corn starch)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (for vegan/dairy free version,Â increase to 1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (margarine for vegan/dairy free)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg (for vegan/dairy free, replace with 3 tablespoons almond or soy milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
To make the sugar: Combine the sugar and both zest in a small bowl until the zest is evenly distributed; set aside.
To make the cookies: In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined, then stir in both zests and juices, as well as the vanilla. Once everything is combined, sprinkle half of the flour mixture over the top and gently mix in. Add the remaining flour mixture, mixing until no streaks of flour remain. If the dough is very sticky, add more flour, as needed, until the dough is barely tacky. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Once the dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll one tablespoon portions of dough into balls. Roll each dough ball in the citrus sugar to coat it completely, then evenly space the cookies on the prepared baking sheet(s). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges turn light golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before serving.
Glaze Variation (I prefer them this way, but there is more work involved)
FOR THE GLAZE
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Make the citrus sugar and the cookie dough the same way. **Do not roll the cookies in the sugar before baking.**
While the cookies are baking,Â combine the sugar and the juices in a small saucepan set over medium heat,Â bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar and continue simmering until the mixture becomes syrupy.
Once the cookies have cooled for at least 5 minutes, generously brush the tops of the muffins with the citrus glaze. Once all of the cookies are glazed, dip each one into the citrus sugar, being sure to get them covered well.
Recipe by Darla