The idea for these raspberry lemonade snickerdoodles has been brewing in the back of my brain for awhile. I love a good snickerdoodle riff, starting with these gingerbread latte snickerdoodles a couple years back. After working on a classic snickerdoodle recipe + variations for my upcoming book, I’m now revisiting a few ideas that I didn’t have room to include (like these graham cracker snickerdoodles from earlier this summer). The beautiful multi-colored sugar cookies from Amy and Sarah inspired the look for this zesty and cheerful raspberry lemonade version!
Making these cookies is fairly straightforward, but for the full raspberry lemonade experience you’ll need a few special ingredients:
Cream of tartar: Cream of tartar is an acid (in powder form; find it in the baking/spices aisle of your grocery store). Combined with baking soda, cream of tartar leavens these snickerdoodle cookies and produces the classic snickerdoodle tang. While there are a lot of suggested substitutions for cream of tartar on the internet, I have not tried them in this particular recipe.
Freeze-dried raspberries: To get a concentrated amount of raspberry flavor in these cookies, I use ground freeze-dried raspberries. Freeze-dried fruit is an amazing way to amp up your baked goods as it brings intense flavor without extra moisture. I ground up whole freeze-dried raspberries into a powder and added it directly to the cookie dough. Freeze-dried fruit is available online and in many grocery stores.
Citric Acid: To give these cookies an extra tangy zing, I use a small amount of citric acid in the sugar sprinkle. Citric acid occurs naturally in citrus fruits (like lemons!) and is also artificially made and used as a flavoring agent and preservative. Citric acid is commonly found in the baking/spices aisle of the supermarket or in bulk food stores. Can you omit it? Sure, but your cookies will not be nearly as punchy. (You could try sprinkling a little lemon zest onto the cookies right after baking, but the flavor will be less potent.) Citric acid keeps well and can be used in many other recipes that might benefit from a little pucker!
Anyways, enjoy these summery snickerdoodles! They really put a smile on my face!
Raspberry Lemonade Snickerdoodles
Makes 12 cookies
For the raspberry lemonade snickerdoodle base:
Zest of one medium lemon
120g (scant 2/3 c) granulated sugar
30g (2 1/2 Tbsp) light brown sugar
113g (1/2 c) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use 1/2 tsp if using another brand of kosher salt or 1/4 tsp table salt)
1 large egg, at room temperature
175g (1 1/3 c plus 2 tsp) all purpose flour
6g finely ground freeze dried raspberries (1 Tbsp ground, from about 1/4 c whole freeze dried raspberries), plus extra for sprinkling (optional)
1-2 drops pink/fuschia food coloring (optional, for more intense color)
For the lemonade sugar sprinkle:
25g (1/8 c) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp citric acid
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine lemon zest and sugars. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugars until fragrant — this releases the essential oils from the zest and intensifies the lemon flavor of the cookies.
Add the butter, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt to the zest-sugar mixture. Mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and cream until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle a couple times during this process to ensure even mixing.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the egg. Increase the speed to medium and mix until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and paddle.
With the mixer on low, add the flour. Mix just until combined. Use a flexible spatula to stir from the bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure everything is well-mixed and there are no pockets of unincorporated flour.
Remove half the dough and wrap in plastic. Add the ground freeze-dried raspberries and food coloring (if using) to the remaining half of the dough and mix until combined. Wrap in plastic. Chill both pieces of dough until firm but still pliable, about 30-45 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and citric acid for the lemonade sugar sprinkle.
Divide each half of dough into twelve acorn-sized balls. You should end up with a total of 24 balls, 12 of each color (about 20g each). Gently press one ball of each color together to form 12 cookies total — don’t roll them too tightly so the colors remain distinct. Toss each in the lemonade sugar sprinkle, coating completely. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 2½ inches apart.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the cookies have puffed and edges are set but the centers are still soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the sheet in the oven halfway through baking. Immediately after removing the cookies from the oven, sprinkle a little more ground freeze-dried raspberries on the berry half of the cookie, if desired. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
People often ask how I come up with ideas of what to make. I have many sources of inspiration — cookbooks, Instagram, the supermarket (moreso when it was normal to go there and just browse…one day, one day) — but perhaps the most common one is that I need to use something up. In this case, it was a small bag of graham cracker crumbs that wasn’t enough for making a pie crust or anything else semi-useful. I happened to be in a cookie-making mood (pretty common these days), so I figured I’d just chuck them in my snickerdoodle dough and see what happened.
Well, the cookies were good but not quite right; but now of course the idea of graham cracker snickerdoodles was stuck in my head. So yes, I had to go get more graham crackers to continue testing and tweaking the proportions of this recipe. And yes, now I have another small bag of graham cracker crumbs just waiting to be the muse for another recipe. Vicious cycle, tough job, someone’s gotta do it!
Anyways, about these graham cracker snickerdoodles. These cookies combine the soft chew and slight tang of a classic snickerdoodle with the pleasant wheatiness and honey-cinnamon vibes of a graham cracker. They’re the perfect mid-afternoon snack, though one of these days I’m going to test the theory that they’d make pretty fine ice cream sandwiches as well.
A few notes:
In the spirit of graham crackers, I use a whole wheat flour for the cookie dough. Traditionally graham flour is coarse and unsifted wheat flour, but here I’ve gone with my favorite sifted red fife flour from Flourist. It has a lovely flavor and texture, and works very well as a 1:1 swap for all-purpose flour in baked goods. I think any soft white wheat flour would work nicely here, or simply use all-purpose.
There are also actual graham crackers inside and out — some mixed into the cookie dough, and some in the sugar sprinkle used to roll the cookie dough balls in before baking. Don’t go overboard and add too many graham cracker crumbs to the actual dough — the dough will be too overloaded and won’t spread properly (I speak from experience). A digital scale is (and always is) your friend here.
If you don’t want to bake all the cookies off at once, you can refrigerate the dough up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage (in both cases, wait until right before baking to toss in the sugar sprinkle). It’s difficult to get the sugar sprinkle to stick to dough that is too cold, so I suggest taking the dough out of the freezer/fridge while preheating the oven. Roll the dough balls in your hands to slightly warm up the dough before rolling in the sugar sprinkle and baking.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugars, honey, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and cream until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle a couple times during this process to ensure even mixing.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the egg and vanilla. Increase the speed to medium and mix until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and paddle.
With the mixer on low, add the flour and graham cracker crumbs. Mix just until combined. Use a flexible spatula to stir from the bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure everything is well-mixed and there are no pockets of unincorporated flour. Cover and chill until firm but still scoopable, about 45 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, and cinnamon for the sugar sprinkle.
Portion the dough into twelve ping-pong sized balls, about 45 grams (3 tbsp) each. Toss each in the sugar sprinkle, coating completely. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 2½ inches (6 cm) apart.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are golden but the centers are still soft and pale, about 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the sheet in the oven halfway through baking. Immediately after baking, sprinkle on a bit more sugar sprinkle if desired. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store leftovers in an airtight container.
I’m a relative latecomer to gingerbread. Neither of my parents are fans of spice cakes and the like, so gingerbread men and houses weren’t a part of my childhood. It wasn’t until college, when one of my best friends suggested a gingerbread making party, that I had my first memorable gingerbread experience; and ever since then I’ve been trying to make up for lost time. I enjoy sneaking in gingerbread spices wherever possible — bread, morning pastries, coffee, cakes, and now — the classic snickerdoodle. And since one of my all time favorite flavor combos is espresso and gingerbread, I also added a bit of espresso powder to make these gingerbread latte snickerdoodles!
These festive snickerdoodles are delightfully simple to make. I’ve added brown butter and brown sugar to add a bit more chew. I also prefer a mix of flours — bread, all purpose, and some type of whole grain flour — for texture and flavor, but all purpose will do just fine as well. A drizzle of white chocolate and a few Crispearls add a little festive flair. I hope you’ll enjoy these as much as I do!
Combine all the gingerbread spice mix ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, brown the butter. First, melt the butter over low heat; then turn up to medium high and cook, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula, until the butter foams, crackles, then browns. Transfer the butter, along with all the browned bits, to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, and 1 1/2 tsp of the gingerbread spice mix.
Whisk the brown and granulated sugars into the brown butter until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Cover and refrigerate for about 30-60 minutes to allow the dough to hydrate and solidify slightly. (Cookie dough can be chilled overnight; if chilled for more than a couple hours, allow to soften for 20-30 minutes at room temperature for easier portioning.)
About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375F with a rack in the center. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
Prepare the sugar coating by combining the granulated and brown sugar with the remaining gingerbread spice mix.
Portion the cookie dough into 12 golf-sized balls, about 35-40 grams each. Roll between hands into a smooth ball, then toss in sugar coating. Space cookies a couple inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake sheets one at a time for 9-11 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cookies should be puffed and the tops starting to crack, but the centers should still look a little soft. After removing the pan, bang it a couple of times on the counter to help deflate the cookies and get that crinkled top. Cool cookies on the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
When cookies are cooled, melt the white chocolate. Decorate cookies as desired, topping with sprinkles or Crispearls before the chocolate sets. Cookies keep well in an airtight container for about 3 days.