Tart & Sassy Cranberry Lemon Drops

Cranberry Lemon CookiesI am a relentless recipe collector and this is one of the many I’ve stashed away from the annual Start Tribune holiday cookie contest. I tried them for the first time this year and really enjoyed the lemon and cranberry zing.  The light dusting of of crushed lemon drops also provides provides a glamorous little bit of bling.


Tart & Sassy Cranberry Lemon Drops

Serving Size: 3 dozen cookies


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • zest from 2 large lemons
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans (I used walnuts because I had them on hand)
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • dried cranberries for garnish
  • 15 lemon drops candies, crushed


  • In a food processor, combine sugar, zest from 2 lemons and 1/2 cup dried cranberries and process until thoroughly incorporated, about 30 to 45 seconds. Add pecans and process an additional 15 seconds.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture and combine with multiple pulses. Scatter cold butter pieces on top of sugar-flour mixture and pulse for 15 (1-second) pulses.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. With food processor running, add egg mixture in a slow steady stream, until dough begins to form a ball, about 10-15 seconds.
  • Remove dough from food processor and divide in half. Place both balls of dough between sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and roll dough into 1 1/2 inch thick logs. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Slice dough into rounds about 3/8 inch thick. Place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets and bake until golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed. combine cream cheese, 1 tablespoon butter, powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, zest from 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon lemon juice (adding more if necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time) and mix until smooth.Spread 1/2 teaspoon of frosting onto each cookie, top with 2-3 dried cranberries and sprinkle with crushed lemon drops.


Adapted from recipe provided by Janet Heirigs of Minneapolis submitted to the 2014 Star Tribune Cookie Contest

13 minute bake time worked best for me. Cookies were too brown at 16 minutes.

I sliced the cookies a little thinner, yielding 44 cookies and used 2 x the frosting so I could frost them thickly.


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