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.