I really like Russian Tea Cakes with their their light, melt-in-your-mouth texture and thought that with a little revision, they might make a delicious lemon cookie too.

After a bit of reworking I came up with Lemon Butterball Cookies. I omitted the nuts that are traditionally part of a Russian Tea Cake to keep the texture very light and smooth and added freshly grated lemon zest, freshly squeezed lemon juice and some lemon extract for plenty of lemon flavor.

The resulting cookies are perfect for any lemon lover. They are light and buttery and filled with fresh lemon zing! And yes, they still have that delightful melt-in-your-mouth texture that makes the Russian Tea Cakes so tasty. Here is how you can try them for yourself:

Lemon Butterball Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons
2 1/4 cups (327 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
yellow food color for tinting dough (optional)
Powdered sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment or silpat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt (and nuts if using). Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, vanilla extract, lemon extract, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and lemon zest until combined and smooth.

My microplane zester is hands-down the best zester that I have ever used – very sharp and perfect for zesting only the rind and not the bitter pith. You can find microplane zesters at Sur La Table and most kitchen supply stores.

Add the flour mixture and mix until dough comes together. This is the time to add the lemon food coloring if you want.

Chill dough for 15 minutes before scooping out 1 inch balls using a small ice cream scoop. Place dough balls approximately 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet.

Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until the cookies are set and slightly browned around the bottom edges. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

After the cookies have cooled, roll in powdered sugar to coat then give each cookie a second coat of powdered sugar.

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