Lemon Dessert Recipes That Taste Like Summer

The dark and cold days of winter are when you really need a refreshing dessert, and luckily lemons can help deliver. Citrus hits its peak during the colder months, making lemon desserts a definite can-do this winter. Here are some lemon dessert recipes that taste like summer for those dreary days when you wish you could instantly take a trip somewhere warmer.

 1. Glazed Lemon Cookies

Glazed lemon cookies

Lemon cookies | iStock.com

You can’t go wrong with glazed lemon cookies, so try these treats from Real Simple. They enlist fresh lemon juice along with lemon zest for a sweet glaze, giving them the fresh, tart flavor lemon lovers adore. This recipe feeds a crowd, serving 48, and the cookies are easy to make, employing only baking staples you probably have in your pantry.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • large egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • cup confectioners’ sugar
  • tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more if necessary
  • teaspoon grated lemon zest

Directions: With an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and salt and beat to combine. Gradually add the flour, mixing until just incorporated. Divide the dough in half and shape into 1¼-inch-diameter logs. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the logs into ⅜-inch-thick pieces and space them 1½ inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until lightly golden, 16 to 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and zest until it forms a thick but pourable glaze. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and let set, about 15 minutes.

2. Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

Lemon coffee cake

Lemon coffee cake | iStock.com

Peak season for Meyer lemons starts in November and runs through March, so pick these up at the grocery store while you have the chance. The Meyer lemon is a cross between a regular lemon and an orange, and it can be enlisted in a number of sweet and savory recipes. This time, we’re throwing them in Martha Stewart Living’s coffee cake. You’ll love this citrusy kick on the standard baked good.

Ingredients:

Streusel

  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 ounces cold unsalted butter

Cake

  • 5 Meyer lemons, cut into paper-thin slices, ends discarded
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice

 Directions: Fr the streusel, mix together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut butter into the flour mixture until small to medium clumps form. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 3 days).

Make the cake: Cook lemon slices in a medium saucepan of simmering water for 1 minute. Drain, and repeat. Arrange lemon slices in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch angel food cake pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest with a mixer on medium speed in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, add eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with sour cream.

Spoon half of the batter evenly into cake pan. Arrange half of the lemon slices in a single layer over the batter. Spread remaining batter evenly over the top. Cover with the remaining lemon slices in a single layer. Sprinkle the chilled streusel evenly over the batter.

Bake until cake is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack set over a baking sheet, and let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and remove outer ring. Let cool on rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the center tube. Slide two wide spatulas between the bottom of the cake and the pan, and lift cake to remove from the center tube. Let cool completely on rack.

Make the glaze: Just before serving, stir together confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Drizzle over cooled cake, letting excess drip down the sides. Let glaze set before slicing, about 5 minutes.

3. Lemon Shortbread Bars

Lemon bars with powdered sugar

Lemon bars with powdered sugar | iStock.com

Here’s another fun treat starring lemons from Fine Cooking: lemon shortbread bars. The homemade shortbread crust is topped with a light lemon filling made from eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and lemon zest. The topping and the crust will bake together for 25 minutes. After cooling, you can cut your lemon shortbread bars into squares, and serve 24 lucky guests.

Ingredients:

Crust

  • Nonstick cooking spray, vegetable oil, or melted butter for the pan
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to just warm
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

Lemon topping

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon table salt
  • ¾ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon packed, finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
 Directions: For the crust: Line a straight-sided 13-by-9-inch metal baking pan with foil, letting the ends create an overhanging edge for easy removal. Lightly coat the sides of the foil with nonstick cooking spray, oil, or melted butter to prevent the lemon topping from sticking. In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, sugar, and salt. Stir in the flour to make a stiff dough. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes, until the dough is firm.

Meanwhile, position a rack near the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake until the crust is golden and set, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile,  make the lemon topping by whisking the eggs, sugar, flour, and salt together until smooth, about 1 minute. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest.

Pour the topping over the hot crust. Return the pan to the oven and increase the heat to 350 degrees. Bake until the topping is set in the center and the edges are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Set the pan on a metal rack to cool until the crust is completely firm, at least 1 hour.

When the bottom of the pan is cool, carefully lift the bars from the pan using the foil sides and transfer them to a cutting board. Separate the foil from the bars by sliding a spatula between them. Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the lemon topping. Cut the bars into 2-inch squares.

4. Lemon-Poppy Seed Cake

poppy seeds in a wooden spoon on a wood table

Poppy seeds | iStock.com

This lemon-poppy seed cake from Epicurious is the perfect dessert to serve at brunches, birthday celebrations, or holiday feasts. It’s a tasty deviation from the traditional chocolate or vanilla, and it’s every bit as delicious. We also love the little speckles the seeds add.

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter and granulated sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in eggs until combined. Reduce speed to low, then add flour mixture and poppy seeds and mix until just combined.

Transfer batter to cake pan, smoothing top, and bake until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then invert onto rack.

Whisk together confectioners sugar and lemon juice in a bowl until smooth. Pour glaze over warm cake, spreading it with a spatula to drizzle over edge. Let stand until glaze is set, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

5. No-Bake Lemon Icebox Pie

lemon on steel lemon juicer

You’ll need a fair bit of lemon juice | iStock.com/gzorgz

This next recipe from Betty Crocker doesn’t even require an oven. It combines a graham cracker crust with a cheesecake-like filling. After at least 4 hours in the refrigerator, you can serve your lemon pie with whipped cream for even more summery flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

Directions: In medium bowl, mix crust ingredients. Press evenly into ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate 1 hour.

In large bowl, beat filling ingredients until smooth. Spread evenly in crust. Refrigerate 4 hours but no longer than 8 hours. Serve with whipped cream if desired.

6. California Lemon Pound Cake

Lemon pound cake | iStock.com

Lemon pound cake | iStock.com

Last but not least is this lemon pound cake from Taste of Home. It has big lemon flavor in both the cake and frosting. This lemon pound cake serves 12 to 16 and is the perfect thing to treat yourself to as you attempt to make it through the winter.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon lemon extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk

Frosting

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Directions: In a large bowl, cream the butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in lemon peel and extract. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Beat just until combined.

Pour into a greased 10-inch fluted tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a small bowl, combine the frosting ingredients; beat until smooth. Spread over top of cake.

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