Light and cakey, similar to the classic NYC style Black and White cookies, these Lemon Amerikaner Cookies are the perfect cross between cake and cookie!
What makes Amerikaner light and cakey?
Amerikaner are different from normal cookies because they are made with both baking powder and baking soda as well as sour cream which gives them their cake like texture!
Are Amerikaner traditionally lemon flavored?
Nope! Classically, amerikaner are just a simple vanilla flavor. To make them more traditionally, leave out the lemon zest from the cookies and replace the lemon juice in the icing with milk.
How to make thick icing
Meringue powder is the secret ingredient to making this powdered sugar and lemon juice based icing thick and help it set!
Tips for making Lemon Amerikaner Cookies
- Make sure the eggs, butter, and sour cream are at room temperature.
- Cream butter, zest, vanilla extract, eggs and sugar together for at least 3-4 min on medium high speed until light and fluffy!
- When zesting the lemons, stop once you can see the white of the lemon. The white part is called the pith and is very bitter so you don’t want it in the cookies.
- After the cookies have been baked and cooled, do your best to keep them in an airtight container – a re-sealable plastic bag is best; if not, your cookies may dry out. I like to let the cookies cool completely and then transfer them to an airtight container if you can’t ice them right away. Once the icing is dry, place the cookies back in an airtight container.
- Unless you are certain the icing is fully dried, do not stack the cookies when storing them.
Ingredients for Lemon Amerikaner Cookies
- All Purpose Flour: Any all purpose flour will work for these! I have not yet tried any other flours with this recipe.
- Sugar: This recipe uses granulated sugar in the dough as well as powdered sugar in the icing.
- Sour Cream: These cookies use sour cream which make these cookies light and fluffy.
- Butter: The butter is the main source of fat for these cookies.
- Eggs: I use regular store bought large eggs.
- Baking soda & Baking powder: These act together to leaven the cookies. Just make sure that they aren’t expired
- Lemon Zest & Juice: These cookies use lots of lemon to make sure the flavor really pops. There is the zest of 2 lemons in the cookies and the juice of 1-2 lemons in the icing.
- Vanilla Extract & Salt: Both of these items add flavor to the cookies. You won’t taste either one specifically but they help to balance out the lemon and sweetness.
- Milk: Milk helps to thicken and make the icing a bit creamier. Non dairy milk will also work here!
- Meringue Powder: Meringue powder helps the icing for these cookies to thicken and harden – otherwise it would end up being more of a softer glaze. It can be difficult to find but you can usually find it in the cake decorating/sprinkles area of the grocery store.
How to make the Amerikaner?
Make the Cookie Dough
- Preheat the oven to 350º F and arrange the two racks in the up and lower third of your oven.
- Prepare two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
- Add softened butter, sugar, lemon zest, salt, vanilla, and eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
- Once the wet ingredients are fully combined, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in 1/4 of the dry mixture. Mix on low until just incorporated.
- Then add in 1/3 of the sour cream and continue mixing until fully mixed in. Scrape the bowl and continue alternating the dry ingredients and the sour cream until you have used both of them up!
Scoop the Cookie Dough
- Using a 1/4 cup muffin scoop (or two 1.5 tablespoon scoops for more cookies), scoop the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave at least 1.5″ between each cookie.
- The dough will be sticky so wet your hands as necessary to roll them into balls and then flatten.
- Flatten the cookies to 1/2″ thick but try to maintain their circular shape. Bake the cookies for 15 min, rotating after 8 minutes to ensure even browning.
- Remove the baking sheets from the oven and place on wire racks to cool for 5 min. Then transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool completely before icing them.
- To make the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar and meringue powder in a medium bowl.
- Add in the milk followed by the juice of 1 lemon. Whisk together until you have a smooth but thick icing. Add more lemon juice as needed but make sure to keep a thick consistency otherwise it will run off the edge of the cookies.
- To ice the cookies, flip them over so the flat side is face up. Using a spoon, scoop about 1-2 Tbsp. of icing onto the flat side of the cookie and moving in a circular motion, spread the icing all over the cookie with the back of the spoon.
- Allow the icing to harden and then place the cookies (unstacked) in an airtight container for storage.
- Stand Mixer
- 230 grams butter room temperature
- 270 grams granulated sugar
- 2 lemons zested
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 8 ounces sour cream room temperature
- 560 grams ap flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 456 grams powdered sugar
- 40 grams meringue powder
- 4 tsp milk
- 2 lemons juiced
- Preheat the oven to 350º F
- Cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest, eggs and salt in a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment for about 3-4 minutes on medium speed.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
- Add in the dry ingredient mix and the sour cream alternating between the two.
- Start with approx. 1/4 of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Then add 1/3 of the sour cream and mix again.
- Continue this process until you have used up all of the dry mixture and the sour cream – make sure to scrape down the bowl and paddle frequently. Start and end with the dry mixture and there should be a total of 3 additions of sour cream.
Scooping and Baking
- Scoop the dough using a muffin scoop or a 1/4 cup cookie scoop. *Note if you want this recipe to make 2 dozen, use a 1.5 tablespoon scoop and scoop two little balls of dough.
- Place onto the baking lined baking sheet, make sure to give them quite a bit of space.
- The dough is sticky so wet your hands as necessary to roll the dough into balls and then flatten.
- Gently flatten the cookies until they are 1/2" thick. Then, with damp fingers, smooth out the edges of each cookie. This helps to prevent the "texture" from browning too quickly.
- Bake the cookies for 12-15 min. Rotate the cookies after about 8 min to make sure they brown evenly. These cookies should stay relatively pale in color.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 min, then transfer the cookies to cooling racks and allow them to cool completely.
- After the cookies have cooled fully (about 15-20 min). They are ready to be iced!
- Whisk together the powdered sugar, meringue powder, and milk. Then slowly add in the lemon juice (you might not need it all). This icing should be relatively thick as you don't want it running off the edges of the cookies.
- Using a spoon, spread a heaping tablespoon of icing onto the bottom/ flat side of each cookie. Place each cookie icing side up on a cooling rack and allow the icing to set and harden.