I am reading a novel in the middle of the day. Now there's something crazy right there. It's Ali Smith's How To Be Both (so good! SO good!),and when I read, therein, the phrase 'hit by lightening,' I realized that it describes exactly the feeling that results from performing a magic vamoose out of negative temperatures and icy pathways and long lists of things to do, to a place where reading a novel in the middle of the day, in a t-shirt, near a palm tree, is not only possible but actually happening. CRAZY. No layers to pile on, no strategies or routes to plot to get from house to car intact, and nerve-feeling restored in even the outermost extremes of all extremities.
If I remember correctly, right before we got out of Dodge, I was making lemon cookies. I had seen a recipe pinned up on what my daughter refers to as "Tumblr for old people," and I followed the link to find the instructions were in Italian. I can hedge my way around in Italian when circumstances demand it but I don't trust myself to parse out a recipe, so I engaged our pals over at Google Translate, who are always good for a few laughs. My favorite part of the translation, hands down, was "leaveto cool and thenspolverizzaliwithicing sugar," with spolverizzali being the best English equivalent that they will offer for the Italian word spolverizzali.
This made me tired, all this translating--too tired to chill and roll cookie dough. When any plans to leave the house must take into account a five minute Clothing period, then even if you love winter to bits there is a baseline level of fatigue that wants a drop cookie more than a fussy rolling-pin-based experience. But I was intrigued by the backwards 'beat the butter into the eggs' thing, and vaguely reminded of some lemon cookies my mother used to get in Little Italy, which I am always hunting for. So I punted and made drop-ish cookies instead, which I rolled in sugar so they would be sparkly, just like the pretty snowflakes are when it is so fricking cold that the snow squeaks under your boots as you mince across the tundra and tears freeze on your eyelashes.
These were chewy and cakey in very pleasing ways, and though not at all like the cookies of my tender youth (still hunting!), really tasty. I made them with various flour combinations and found, not surprisingly, that eggs and butter are pretty capable of carrying the day here. If you lack sweet rice flour or arrowroot, then fine white or brown rice flour work as subs for those. The texture was a little grittier when I used straight up rice flour, but the almond meal and overall lemony-ness made that OK. And if your rice flour is the regular kind, not the fine kind, a trip through the blender or spice grinder can set that to rights.
sparkly lemon cookies
inspired by il fior di caperro
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2/3 c sugar, plus more for rolling
- 10T unsalted butter, very soft
- zest of one lemon, finely grated
- 2t lemon juice
- 1 c sweet rice flour
- 1 c almond meal
- 1 c arrowroot
- large pinch of kosher salt
Heat the oven to 350 and line two pans with parchment (although note that you can make the dough and chill it for later baking).
Beat the eggs and sugar in a mixer until quite light and fluffy. Beat the butter into this mixture in three additions, followed by the lemon zest and juice. Combine the dry ingredients, and also in three additions, stir these in at low speed or by hand. You can proceed at this point or chill the dough for later fussing. Roll scoops of dough between your palms until you have a smooth ball (mine were about ping-pong ball sized); drop these into a small bowl of granulated sugar and press lightly. Place the cookies sugar-side up on the parchment, with about an inch between them. Bake about ten minutes, until they have puffed and set. The tops will not brown, so don't wait on that. Cool on a rack. These stayed cakey and soft for days, which was a lucky break for the college post office that couldn't seem to unite my daughter and the care package.