Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Break Up Cookie

Seriously, Party People, was it really February that I last posted something on here? Mah, gawd, what have I been DOING all this time? I know I've been baking because, well, hardly a week or so goes by that I don't. I just haven't been posting.

Well, now, let's just break the dry spell with a cookie, shall we? I know, I know, it's a summer cookie, but I also know there are those among my readership who live in perpetual summer, and those for whom cold weather is rapidly approaching like a dog running down a rabbit, which means you're probably needing a little bit o' the islands in your life right about now.

This cookie comes straight out of Nancy Baggett's award-winning The All-American Cookie Book, which is not only a great baking book but also a great overview of the cookie's genesis in the U.S. This is one of several citrus glazed, shortbread-style cookies in the book, and it's simply melt-in-your-mouth irresistible.

A cautionary note: A couple summers ago, I put a platter of them out at happy hour, at which a good friend and her brand new beau were in attendance.

"No, no," the beau said, waving me away. "I'm not much of a sweets person."

"Oh, you'll eat these," said S.B. knowingly.

Sure enough, the beau proceeded to shovel about a dozen of these down his gullet over the course of an hour, as a result suffering one heck of a tummy ache later on that evening, no doubt putting a damper on whatever romantic plans the newly blissed-out couple had in store for each other.

Regardless. My friend eventually Dear Johned him. Most likely a good choice, because not 24 hours had passed after the break up and he called me in tears, begging me to explain what he could have possibly done wrong. I politely begged off, stating it was quite simply none of my business. But before hanging up, he said something that did endear me slightly to his plight: "And I'll never get to eat those cookies again!"


For the cookie dough:
2-1/2 cups all purpose white flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature and slightly softened
1/4 cup flavorless vegetable oil
1 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest (colored part only)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (colored part only)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (Key limes preferred)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (or 1 teaspoon lemon juice)

For the glaze:
1-1/3 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest (colored part only)
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 tiny drop of green liquid food coloring
1 tiny drop of yellow liquid food coloring

(Note about lemons and limes: I have discovered that all total, you'll need one lemon and 3-4 regular sized limes or 5-6 key limes for the recipe.)

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl with an electric mixer or in a stand mixer, beat together butter, oil, and powdered sugar until well blended, about a minute. Scrape down bowl, increase speed to high, and beat until very well blended, about another minute. Add the egg, lime and lemon zests, lime juice, vanilla, and lemon extract (or juice) and beat until very light and smooth. Turn mixer to low and beat in flour mixture until evenly incorporated. Refrigerate dough for 2 hours or until firm enough to handle.

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Grease several baking sheets or line with Silpat mats.

Shape portions of the dough into 1-inch diameter balls. Place on baking sheets about 1-1/2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time in upper third of the oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly tinged with brown at the edges. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Once cookies are thoroughly cooled, stir together all the ingredients for the glaze, including the food coloring, until mixture is completely smooth and satiny. Adjust texture as necessary with drops of water or small bits of powdered sugar to produce a fluid glaze that isn't runny.

Set wire racks with cookies over sheets of plastic wrap or newspaper to catch drips. Gently dip the tops of each cookies into the glaze, swirl briefly to coat and set back down on rack to set completely, at least one hour. Or, drip glaze over each cookie with a small spoon, being careful to coat completely.

These will keep their freshest for about a week and freeze nicely for up to two months.