Zitronenherzen (German Lemon Heart Cookies)
Updated: Feb 21
With a surprise sweet yet tart lemon flavor, these buttery, crumbly cookies will melt in your mouth. These traditional, but lesser-known German Christmas cookies feature an almond shortbread-like base topped with a lemon icing. With a simple yet elegant look, these scrumptious gluten-free cookies can add a romantic or decorative touch to your Christmas cookie platters.
Makes 24 cookies
3 large egg yolks
⅔ cup granulated sugar
8oz vanilla sugar
½ tsp lemon extract
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2-2.5 cups blanched almond meal
Confectioners’ sugar, for rolling the dough
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1½ - 2 Tbsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Using an electric handheld mixer, beat the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla sugar, and lemon extract until thick and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the baking powder and salt and beat until combined.
Add half of the almond meal and mix until combined, then add the remaining almond meal in small increments. Add as much almond meal to the dough as required for the ingredients to be well mixed and the dough to be smooth. If necessary, knead the dough with your hands.
Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar on a clean surface, place the dough on top, and cover the top of the dough with plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to about ⅕-inch thickness. Remove the plastic wrap and use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut the cookies. Place the cookies onto the prepared baking sheet. (You may need to dip the cookie cutter into confectioners’ sugar from time to time to prevent the dough from sticking to the cookie cutter.)
Bake the cookies for about 9-11 minutes, or until just barely starting to brown. Remove the cookies from the parchment paper and place them on a cooling rack.
Place the sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth.
Brush the tops of the warm cookies with the lemon icing, then allow the cookies to cool completely so the icing can harden.