About the Recipe
With Easter just around the corner, what better way to celebrate than with some delicious, festive treats? These cookies are not only easy to make but also bursting with the bright, fresh flavor of lemon, making them the perfect addition to your holiday spread.
The base of these cookies is a rich, buttery shortbread, which pairs perfectly with the tangy lemon flavor. They are cut into adorable Easter-themed shapes, such as bunnies, eggs, and flowers, and decorated with a delicate layer of royal icing. The icing not only adds a sweet touch but also serves as a blank canvas for you to get creative with your decorations.
Whether you're looking for a fun project to do with the kids or want to impress your guests with a beautiful dessert, these Lemon Shortbread Easter Cookies with Royal Icing are sure to be a hit.
So, let's get baking!
1 cup + 1 tablespoon Unsalted Butter (melted)
1 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 lemon (just the rind use juice for icing)
5 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2 cups Icing Sugar
3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
1/3 cup Warm Water
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
These cookies only require a few easy steps to make which will give you plenty of time to have fun with decorating them. The other thing I love about this recipe, is that the cookie dough can easily be made ahead of time and frozen. Just thaw it in the fridge overnight the day before you want to make them. This dough is the perfect easy shortbread recipe which I use for all of my holiday cookies. Whether for hallowee, Christmas or Easter, this recipe is perfect for stamping out any shapes. They taste great even without the addition of icing. You can simply add a bit of egg wash before baking to give them a nice glossy finish.
Start by melting your butter in a large mixing bowl. Add in your sugar and salt and mix thoroughly with a hand mixer. Add in the eggs and mix until everything is well combined and you have a nice creamy paste-like consistency. To this, add the lemon rind. Fold the rind in with a rubber spatula or mix in gently with your mixer.
Next, slowly incorporate the flour one cup at a time, mixing after each addition.
Once the dough starts to get a bit too thick to keep mixing with the hand held mixer, I go in with my hands to finish off the dough, making sure that everything is well incorporated and I am left with a solid piece of buttery dough. You can also use your spatula to make sure everything is well blended if you do not want to get doughy hands.
Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for a minimum of 1-2 hours (or overnight) until the dough has cooled and has solidified a bit. It will be easier to roll out this way.
Preheat your oven to 375F.
When your dough has finished chilling, flour your work surface liberally. These are very buttery cookies, so the more you work the dough, the butter will begin to warm up and begin to stick to your work surfaces. Just be sure to flour your rolling pin as well.
Roll out your dough so that it is about 4mm thick. Place your cookie cut-outs onto a lined baking sheet. These cookies will remain the same size during baking so you can lay them out quite closely together to try and fit as many onto your sheet as possible.
Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown very slightly. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool. Only add any decorative icing once they have completely cooled (or the icing will melt off).
To make the royal icing, simply mix together the icing sugar and meringe powder in a medium mixing bowl. Slowly add in lemon juice and water mixing until you have achieved your desired consistency. You want the icing to be thin enough so that it can be piped smoothly but not too runny either (unless you want to simply brush a thin layer overtop your cookies with a pastry brush). If you find the icing too runny, simply add a bit more icing sugar, if it is too thick, simply add a little bit more water.
Remember, a little liquid goes a long way when working with icing sugar. Once you have achieved your desired consistency, divide it into separate bowls if you want to make more than one color. Add in a few drops of food coloring et voila! You are ready to decorate.
I like to outline the main color first and then fill it in. Use a toothpick to poke any air bubbles or to help spread the icing if need be. There are many tutorials online on how to best decorate with Royal Icing. The tricky part is getting the proper consistency to the icing as well as having a steady hand. I have used both piping bottles and simply piping bags with no tips. I would suggest you try both to see which you prefer.
Once the cookies are all decorated, make sure to let the icing dry completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days until ready to serve.
Happy cookie making!