The older I get, the simpler I want things to be. I remember as a kid wondering how it was possible that the adults around me could not program the VCR or set the clock on the microwave. Those were so simple to do, I thought. As I got a little older I couldn’t understand how my elders didn’t understand DOS or weren’t able to code in simple basic. Then at some point technology started advancing at an alarming rate and even I started to struggle to keep up. Before I knew it I had to ask people half my age to explain things to me, like how that hashtag thing works – (I still don’t get it by the way). Ask me to show you how to post something to someone else’s Facebook wall (and when I say all that, I really don’t know what that means) and I will just look at you with a blank stare. Ask me why if I take a picture on my iPhone it will automatically appear on my laptop, but if I delete it from the phone it stays on the laptop and one of my eyes will start twitching. Ask me to connect my Apple music account to the Sonos player and stream my collection in random order on the kitchen speakers, and I’ll probably drop dead. And technology still keeps moving forward, always with the promise of making our lives easier. Want a pizza delivered to your home, no need to call anymore… order online; Need to buy something but don’t want to pull out your credit card, just use Apple Pay on your phone; Do you want to unlock your front door or dim the lights in the living room (from anywhere in the world), just pick up your smart phone and press a few buttons. We don’t even have to do anything other than say out loud “Alexa, play my favorite music” and viola it’s done. Even in the cooking realm we have gadgets like the insta-pot, rice cookers, and even machines that will toast your english muffin, cook your egg and Canadian bacon and put the whole thing together for you into a nice little sandwich. There are electric kettles that will bring your water to the exact temperature you want, and your refrigerator can actually remind you when you’re out of milk.
I have already extolled the virtues of the Ember Ceramic Mug which keeps your hot beverage at the perfect temperature for an extended period of time but it’s worth noting here that your smart phone will also tell you when the mug has reached your desired temperature and also serve as a timer for how long your tea has steeped. I’m not sure if these things actually make our lives any easier but I suppose if you eat hot dogs all the time - then a toaster like contraption that heats the hot dogs and toasts the buns at the same time might be just for you.
When I first started cooking, that is to say when I stopped eating Kraft Mac and Cheese for most of my meals, I thought that the more ingredients something had in it, the better it would be. As Frasier Crane told his brother Niles… “If less is more, just think how much more, more would be”. I used to listen to cooks who talked about the complexity of flavors and how it was important to build layers of flavors that complimented each other in a dish. And I have to say I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact I would favor that food over bland, under-seasoned food any day. I used to look for recipes that had this building of flavors all the time. At some point though I really started to appreciate the simple things like roasted vegetables or a pan seared rib eye steak with nothing more than salt and pepper for seasoning. There are definitely dishes that can use the extra hit of complex flavor profiles but some things can pretty much stand on their own… vanilla ice cream for example; Lemon curd, and shortbread cookies; Buttermilk biscuits and strawberry preserves to name a few more.
Quite some time ago I can remember my mother buying a box of these little, simple, lime cookies, covered in powdered sugar, that literally melted in your mouth when you ate them. I don't remember the brand name, or anything else about them other than they tasted so good I just kept reaching into the box for more. That box of cookies didn't last long at all. As I ate them I tried to figure out how they could just melt away like they did. Plus they had this “super-cooling” feel to them from the powdered sugar and then there was the lime flavor that lingered behind. I only remember my mother buying those cookies once. Had I known that we would never see them in our house again, I would have taken copious notes to remind me about them; Hind site, right? I have looked for those cookies in stores for a very long time without any luck. I guess you can't be surprised to never find a specific cookie when you don't know the brand, the name, or even what the box looked like. So, when a friend on mine passed this recipe on to me during a slice and bake faze I was going through, I was so very happy. Are they a perfect match… no… but they’re as close as I think I will ever find. And it means that now I don't have to scour the cookie aisle looking for something I know I could have never found anyway!
The original recipe is found on Martha Stewart's web site which you can view here and I haven't changed it at all (well, maybe a tiny, tiny, little bit) because when I baked my first batch they were just as I expected them to be. Good lime flavor, offset by the powdered sugar and melt in your mouth deliciousness. The second time I baked them; well it was exactly the same, why wouldn't it be? The recipe will yield about 5 dozen bite sized cookies if you roll the dough into the 1¼-inch diameter as specified. And the best part is they’re simple to make and we don’t need a ton of ingredients to make them. You will need a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to make these and some parchment paper to roll up the dough and to cover your baking sheets, but that’s about all. The only note I really have on these cookies is don’t overwork the dough in the mixer, that will lead to a tough cookie. When mixing it’s important to stop the mixer when the dough has clumped together a bit but is not fully formed into a ball, then finish mixing by using a rubber spatula to bring it completely together.
So, here is how I make them
1¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (266 grams) all purpose flour
2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (125 grams) confectioners sugar (divided into ⅓ (42 gm) & ⅔-cup (83 gm) portions)
Finely grated zest from two limes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
In a bowl whisk together the flour, the cornstarch, and the salt until they are well blended and then set the bowl aside while you get the sugar and butter ready.
Put the butter and ⅓-cup confectioners sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix it, starting at the lowest speed and gradually increasing the speed to medium high (so everything doesn’t fly out of the bowl) until the butter is very pale and fluffy. That will take about 4 to 5 minutes.
Add in the lime zest, the lime juice, and the vanilla then scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula to make mixing a bit easier.
Again starting on low speed and increasing the speed gradually to medium high, mix until everything is mixed in and fluffy again, about 1 minute more. At the beginning it might slosh around a bit but it should come together shortly. If not, use your spatula to fold the butter and liquid together a few times to help it along.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and pulse the machine a few times just to get the flour worked in a little bit, then mix on low just until it is combined and starts to clump together. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
Finish mixing the dough with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl and bringing the dough into a ball.
Divide the dough in half and place each half onto a 12 x 12-inch piece of parchment paper and roll it into a log 1¼-inches in diameter. The log will be about 9 inches long.
Leave the dough rolled in the parchment paper and place them into the refrigerator for about an hour until they are cold and firm.
Place the remaining ⅔-cup confectioners sugar into a large re-sealable plastic bag and set that aside for now. We don't use this until the cookies are baked and have cooled for a bit.
Preheat the oven to 350°F with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Take the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap it. Slice it into ¼-inch rounds and place them on parchment lined baking sheets at least 1-inch apart.
Bake them until they are just barely golden which is about 13 minutes, but rotate the pans front to back and top to bottom about half way through.
Carefully, move the cookies onto a wire rack so they can cool for about 10 minutes, while they are still warm you will toss them in the bag of sugar until they are well coated. Don't overcrowd the bag (work in batches) and be a little gentle with them too, they are fairly fragile while they are still warm.
Return them to the wire racks to cool completely, if you haven't started eating them yet.
Store whatever you don't eat in an airtight container at room temperature and according to Martha Stewart you can do so for up to two weeks. My feeling is if you have these cookies on hand for two weeks you either don't like cookies that much or you live alone and have much better will-power than I do!