Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Taste Tip: This dough must be prepared in advance.

For cookies
3¾ cups flour, plus extra for rolling dough
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 teaspoon yellow food coloring, optional

For icing
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon green food coloring
Decorative sugar, optional

To prepare cookies: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat 2 sticks butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lemon juice, lemon extract and yellow food coloring, if desired, and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Form dough into two discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a tree cookie cutter, cut out dough and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.

Repeat with remaining dough, gathering up scraps, re-rolling and re-cutting dough until all is used. Bake until cookies are set but not hard, 9 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare icing: In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar and mix until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add lime zest, lime juice and food coloring, and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Ice cookies, and decorate with colored sugar, if desired.

2011 Finalist: Joan Hause of Lake Elmo, Minnesota