What kinds of treats do you like to give and receive for Easter? I think it’s traditionally a candy holiday, with Easter baskets filled with chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and peanut butter eggs. I would always rather indulge in fresh baked goodies than candy though. How about you?
This year, I’m going to bake up another batch of these Lemon Gooey Butter Cookies for Easter. They are so amazingly rich, tender, and delicious. They sure didn’t last long at our house! The bright citrus flavor and pretty pastel colors makes them the perfect treat for the holiday.
When butter is a key ingredient of a recipe, you don’t want to use just any butter! I used Finlandia butter and gourmet cheese in these cookies, and I’m certain that’s why they tasted so incredible. I encourage you to discover the legendary taste of Finlandia too!
Finlandia’s butter and cheese is made with the purest milk from Finnish family-owned farms, where the farmers treat their cows like family. They have been making cheese and butter for over 100 years, and all that care and experience is reflected in the taste of their products! I used Finlandia unsalted butter in this cookie recipe, and I love their salted butter on toast, vegetables, grits, and more. They really raise the bar on butter with their rich, creamy taste and texture!
Since you are using premium butter and cheese in this recipe, I recommend also choosing an all-natural cake mix. (Sometimes you have to look on the top shelf of your grocery store for the better brands!) I chose a gluten-free yellow cake mix, so you can enjoy these butter cookies even if you need to avoid wheat!
2¼ cups (270 grams) organic all-purpose flour, such as King Arthur Flour
2 teaspoons (about 8 grams) baking powder
1 (8-ounce/226-gram) package cream cheese, such as Philadelphia, softened
½ cup (1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (12 grams) freshly grated lemon zest, from 2 large lemons
1½ tablespoons (22.5 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (a few drops) lemon oil, such as Boyajian -Omit for gluten-free variation.
1/8 teaspoon natural yellow gel based food coloring, such as CHEFMASTER
1 teaspoon (5 grams) kosher salt, or ¾ teaspoon regular table salt
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk (mine weighed 71 grams w/o shells)
1 cup (120 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted, for rolling & dusting cookies
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder until well blended. Set aside.
Using an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or handheld electric mixer, cream
together cream cheese and butter until well blended, creamy and smooth. Beat in sugar, lemon zest and juice, vanilla, lemon oil, food coloring and salt; mix until well combined, light and fluffy, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula when necessary. Add egg and egg yolk and beat in well until creamy and light, about 1 to 2 minutes on medium speed.
On low speed, gradually add flour mixture and mix until just fully incorporated. Dough will be very sticky. Cover work bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, arrange oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 325ºF (165ºC). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Place confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl; set aside.
Measure enough dough to roll into generous 1-inch balls, using a 1 1/3-inch spring-loaded cookie scoop (or by measuring a generous tablespoon of dough with a measuring spoon) making sure each scoopful is in equal amounts. This is important for evenly baked cookies.
Roll dough between palms of hands to achieve a small rounded ball and then roll in confectioners’ sugar to lightly coat. Place dough balls on prepared baking sheets at least 2 inches apart.
Bake in preheated oven until cookies have spread into round cookie shapes and are puffed and crackly, about 14 minutes. Do not overbake. The cookies will still be soft in the centers. If they start to brown around the edges, they have baked too long. The underside of the cookies should be only very lightly browned.
Transfer to wire rack and allow cookies to cool completely on baking sheet. Once completely cooled, carefully remove cookies from baking sheet using a thin metal cookie spatula and transfer to an airtight container. Repeat with remaining dough on prepared cookie sheets.
If desired, chill the cookies in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Before serving, dust cookies with additional confectioners’ sugar. Serve cookies chilled or at room temperature.