Sunday, March 8, 2009

citrus meltaways


We recently spent the weekend playing in the snow in Big Bear with Denise and Kevin and their kids. I was in charge of dessert, and I knew Kevin would be happy if there were something citrusy to offset the brownies. This tangerine meltaways recipe had caught my eye, and it was derived from a lime version, which was modified slightly from a Smitten Kitchen recipe, which was derived from a Martha Stewart recipe.

I only had lemons, but I figured they'd do just fine, and they did. I'd like to try tangerine, lime, or a lemon-lime combo at some point. I actually followed the lime meltaways recipe on Use Real Butter, which Patricia had linked to. Note the great instructional photos. I had trouble shaking the cookies to coat them with powdered sugar, but I'll tell you what worked instead.

The cookies are really light, not too sweet, and surprisingly melty. They taste kind of like a Mexican wedding cookie without nuts.

Lime Meltaways (makes 4 dozen)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
grated zest of 2 limes (or 1 medium-large lemon - use your best judgment)
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime (or lemon) juice (she recommends 3, but I stuck to the recipe)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar together until fluffy. Add lime or lemon zest, juice, and vanilla; whip until fluffy. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until just combined.

Roll the dough into two 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on silpat-lined baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, just three or four minutes.

Here's where my directions veer off. The original recipe has you put the remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a ziploc bag. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss to coat. However, my cookies broke apart when I did that. My solution:

Place the wire rack over a rimmed cookie sheet (just to control the mess). Fill a teaballer with powdered sugar. You could use a clean sifter, too, but I had more control with the smaller size of the teaballer. Sprinkle the cookies generously with powdered sugar. Turn them over and sprinkle them again, and then leave them to cool completely. Because you sprinkled them while they were warm, the heat from the cookies will melt the sugar a bit, making it a little goopy. To get a nice, dry, powdered sugar texture, when the cookies are completely cool, flip them over again (top side up) and sprinkle them once more with powdered sugar. You'll be surprised that this method doesn't use any more sugar than the original, and it coats the cookies nice and evenly.

These are great with a glass of milk! Best yet, the baked cookies keep in an airtight container for two weeks, and if you don't slice-and-bake them all, the dough logs keep in the freezer for two months. Another easy cookie to pull out of the freezer and bake quickly if company shows up.

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