Mother Daughter Lemon Drops

By • February 15, 2011 10 Comments

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Author Notes: I have a mother who baked every day of my childhood & recited the mantra: “Baking is chemistry. You stick to the recipes.” However, if you ever cooked alongside her, you would see her changing things all the time, most commonly adding sour cream to everything. Challenge her & she’d say, “Well, that doesn’t count.” Apparently, if you don’t write down the changes, you haven’t officially changed anything. These lemon drops are the result of changes over generations, and I’m breaking the rules by writing them down. My mother is 83 years old & cooks with margarine – oleo, specifically. She was newly married when that product hit the shelves and she never looked back. I, however cook with butter, so that was my first change. I kept her sour cream addition – it makes these cookies more like little cakes. I amped up the lemon flavoring by combining fresh zest with extract. The final change came via my adult stepdaughter, who introduced me to the wonder of cream cheese frosting, which I started adding to all my recipes. OK, that’s an exaggeration; I don’t add it to soup. So, here’s the current incarnation of our family’s lemon drop cookies. However, in 10 more years, they’ll probably be a little different. Who knows what the grandchildren will change? By the way, I like small cookies & get 48 out of this recipe. My mother likes larger & gets 24. Either way, they’re delicious & they freeze beautifully.Phoenix Helix

Serves 24-48 cookies

Cookie Dough

  • 1-1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-3/4 cups flour


  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon extract
  • 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar (approximately)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix butter & sugar together at medium-high speed until light & fluffy. Turn the speed down to medium & add the egg, lemon zest & extract. Turn the speed down to low & add the sour cream, baking soda & flour. Blend until evenly mixed, but don’t overbeat.
  3. Scoop in teaspoonfuls onto silpat-lined cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 10-12 minutes.
  5. To make frosting, heat the cream cheese & butter together in the microwave for 20 seconds. Transfer to mixing bowl & blend until fluffy. Add lemon extract & blend again. Finally, add as much powdered sugar as necessary to reach a good frosting consistency.
  6. Wait until the cookies are cool to frost them.

More Great Recipes: Fruit|Cookies|Desserts

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Comments (10) Questions (0)


over 4 years ago lapadia

These sound wonderful, I ? lemon anything! My mom is from the same generation as yours and come to think of it she used a lot of margarine, too!


over 4 years ago Phoenix Helix

Margarine had no flavor, but it sure gave everything a nice, fluffy texture. My mother-in-law is a Crisco fan. I love them both, but I'm happy butter is back in the forefront of baking, at least in my kitchen! Do let me know if you try the recipe.


over 4 years ago Lizthechef

Wonderful headnote - and another for my Meyer lemon recipe collection!


over 4 years ago Phoenix Helix

Ooooh. I bet it would be wonderful with Meyer lemons.


over 4 years ago dymnyno

I love your family cooking together. Will try the cookies too!


over 4 years ago Phoenix Helix

So many beautiful memories center around food, don't they? I look forward to hearing how you like these family faves.


over 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

What a great story! And recipe!


over 4 years ago Phoenix Helix

Thanks. Introductions are one of my favorite things about Food52 recipes. It was fun to share this one.


over 4 years ago TiggyBee

These are lovely!


over 4 years ago Phoenix Helix

Thank you!