Wednesday, September 17, 2014

lime meltaway cookies (we are melting in the heat)

This evening we went for a walk and it was beyond hot out. So warm that I kept waiting for that moment when our forward momentum would stir up some kind of breeze or cool air, but no, it was like marching through honeyed heat.

I commented to my husband that this kind of heat reminds me of the opening chapter of "To Kill a Mockingbird". He responded that it reminded him of the scene in the "Great Gatsby" where they all decide to go into the city and it is so unbelievably hot from the weather and the tension in the room between Tom and Gatsby. I loved that we could have this kind of discussion (and shout-out to our high school English teachers!)

So, it is hot and I am just longing for fall. Today I sat down with my stack of beloved October/November issues of Martha Stewart magazines that I have collected over the years, and put yellow post-it notes on all the recipes and inspiration that I am just storing up. Until then, it is just hot.

Last weekend we had a friend over for dinner and I decided I wanted to make a nice little cookie to go along with a bowl of berries for dessert. My husband has been loving limes lately and I decided to take inspiration from that. These days, my first stop for recipe ideas/direction is the Smitten Kitchen website. Sometimes I just get that feeling that the internet is too big to be trusted. Like, if I google something, who knows what ill advised instructions will come up? However, I know if Deb has posted a recipe, it has been appropriately vetted and tested. Also, she has her recipes organized in the most helpful fashion. Check out the index here.

It was on her site that I found this recipe for lime meltaway cookies. If you're not familiar with a meltaway cookie, I think they can be best described as a little crumbly shortbread-like cookie that is so full of citrus zest it is almost too puckery but that wonderful sourness is tempered by a lovely outer coating of powdered sugar. I do not think I have ever had a homemade lime meltaway cookie, but I recall someone used to send my Grandma special little bags of a gourmet cookie line version and we loved them.

I am pleased to share that these cookies are completely worth making from scratch. I baked them and rolled them in powdered sugar while dinner prep was wrapping up and somehow we ended up with a West Wing episode on in the kitchen and so, pre-dinner, my husband and I and our dinner guest ate cookies and watched TV. (I never did get around to putting together the accompanying bowl of berries).  It was one of those lovely relaxed Saturday evenings. We all agreed that the cookies were very good. The next morning, I woke up wondering if I was accurately recalling the cookie from the night before and so I snagged one with my morning coffee. I was pleased that it really was that lovely.

The great news is the recipe makes a ton- I think I ended up with about 4 dozen of them - and they keep very well.

The original recipe is to use "key limes" but I have neither the patience to track down or juice those darlings, so the directions below reflect that I used regular limes.

lime meltaway cookies

12 tablespoons room-temperature butter
1 cup confectioners sugar (divided into 1/3 cup and 2/3 cup- you don't use it all at once)
grated zest of 1 regular lime
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (apparently 2 cups is just a little too much)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1) With a hand mixer or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attached, whisk together the butter and 1/3 cup of the confectioners sugar until it is fluffy.

2) To the butter sugar mixture, add the lime zest, juice and vanilla. Whisk until combined.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together: flour, cornstarch and salt.

4) Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until combined.

5) Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a round log about 1 inch in diameter. Roll in parchment paper and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

6) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice dough into 1/4 inch thick rounds and place about 1 inch apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets (take care to keep the remaining dough in the fridge until needed.)

7) Bake cookies until just pale golden, about 15 minutes. While the cookies bake, place the other 2/3 cup of powdered sugar in a shallow or ziplock baggie.

8) Remove baking sheet from oven and allow cookies to cool, ever so slightly, on wire racks. But while still warm, toss, roll, dredge in the powdered sugar. The heat of the cookie with melt the powdered sugar just enough to form a soft coating. Cookies can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

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