Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lemon meltaways

Lemon meltaways

I've now reached the point where baking threatens to become more of a compulsion than a hobby. When did this point come, you might ask? In the fourth day of a 90-plus-degree heat wave, when the thermometer read 97 but all I could think of was baking cookies.

But to my credit, these weren't just any cookies. Oh no. Not in this weather. With the weather this unbelievably horrid, what I wanted more than anything was Lemon Coolers.

Remember Lemon Coolers? Came in a green box, made by Sunshine Biscuits, extra-delicious when you stashed the whole box in the freezer and then pulled out a few at a time to scarf down ice-cold? Yeah, that's the stuff. Lemony, chilly, melt-in-your-mouth crumbly-buttery Lemon Coolers.

Unfortunately, they quit making Lemon Coolers years ago. Apparently, I'd have to come up with a home-baked alternative.

Not a problem, though -- there are tons of knockoff recipes floating around on the Internet. Many of them included stuff I didn't have lying around my house, though, including one recipe that even uses lemon Kool-Aid mix. A pouch full of artificial flavors and colors and chemicals, in my cookies? Oh no, this won't do. Luckily, I found a solution where I wasn't exactly looking for it -- a recipe for key lime cookies that looked ripe for tweaking.

All lined up for the oven

They're not exactly Lemon Coolers, but y'know, they're still pretty darned tasty, especially chilled, and they're not terribly hard to make, either, though the sugar-coating gets a little tedious. And they're an easier version of a shortbread-style cookie than I've tried before -- in fact, I may try making these again but swapping out the lemon juice for water and a pinch of sugar, just to see if I can turn these into slice-and-bake plain shortbread cookies.

Lemon Meltaways
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
12 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice (or any citrus juice of your choice)
1 tbsp vanilla extract (I swapped a little of this for lemon extract, just to punch up the flavor)
1 3/4 c plus 2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

1. Cream butter and 1/3 c confectioners' sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add in the lemon juice and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Pour these into the butter mixture and beat to combine.
3. Form the dough into a log around 1 1/4 inches in diameter. (I did this by putting it on waxed paper, folding the paper over it and then pushing one edge toward the dough to force it into a log shape.) Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pull out your dough and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, placing them on a cookie sheet with a little bit of space in between them. Bake until just barely golden, about 15 minutes -- keep an eye on them, 'cause they may very well take less time to be done.
5. Dredge the warm cookies in the remaining confectioners' sugar. (I sometimes use a big zip-top bag for this, just putting the cookies in with the sugar and shaking it up. But these were delicate enough that they actually tended to break that way, so I ended up putting the sugar on a plate and dredging them.)
6. Let cool (this won't take long), then coat a second time in confectioners' sugar.

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