Ok, so I do. And I will. Right now.
I have recently made the best cookies I have ever made. Also, quite possibly the best cookies I have ever eaten. If you love citrus, if you love tequila, if you love margaritas, if you adore just the tiniest hint of saltiness in your sweets, or any or all of the above, and you never thought their essence could be contained in a cookie – you’d be wrong. It can. It is. And you need to try this. They are crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth delicately textured and oh so aromatic! The cookies are not overly sweet, but the sugar-and-salt crust adds just the needed edge of sweetness with the very light, not at all pungent salty fleck.
Yes, I know that’s a pretty astounding claim to make, not to mention prideful, but there it is. These have, as of last weekend, become my favorite cookies to eat. Move over lemon shortbread, and gooey triple-chocolate chocolate chunk cookies, these, these are the cookies which I place upon the throne and hand the holy scepter of cookie royalty to.
Erm. Yes, they’re good enough to wax poetic about. No, they aren’t actually my idea, though now I feel it should have been – I have come across these on a great foodie blog I read on a regular basis, namely Zoe’s Dare to Eat a Peach, the same place which has given me the foodgazmic cast-iron home pizza-making method.
Zoe’s blog is one of the few that I have stumbled over while randomly browsing wordpress “food” tags. I cannot even remember what it was on her blog that attracted me – it may well have been that pizza post, but after reading a few posts on it, I ended up bookmarking and following it, because Zoe is not just a great amateur chef, but her writing is incredibly inviting, in the sense that it convinces you that yes, despite the fact that this (whatever this may be) sounds a bit new and strange, it is worth trying and really very accessible – many food bloggers try the “if I can do this, so can you!” ploy, but in Zoe’s case, she actually does convince you that you can. And, with spectacular results to boot! It also helps that the food she writes about is as good as these cookies. Or the aforementioned pizza.
And it’s not just the food – as I’ve said, her writing is wonderful to read (Zoe, if you publish a cookbook, I’d buy it!), and that refers to the rants that are sprinkled in-between the recipes, which are well-written, to the point and poke the social conventions in the eye. With a sharp twig, which is very needed and more than deserved. So, before I get to the actual recipe, there are two things which need to be said:
In fact, I will say them in all caps too:
YOU SHOULD MAKE THESE COOKIES FOR YOUR NEW YEAR’S PARTY!
GO READ ZOE’S BLOG!
So, now that I’ve gotten the important bits out of the way, here’s my adaptation of Zoe’s recipe (in turn adapted from Smitten Kitchen, but with Zoe’s valuable notes about the dough which were a lot of use, at least to me).
- A hand or stand mixer.
- Cling film (saran or plastic wrap).
- Baking parchment.
- 230g unsalted butter, softened (room temperature)
- 70-75g confectioners’ sugar (my scale only does 25g increments, so I erred on the side of excess and it worked fine)
- 2 egg yolks (large and free-range is my preference)
- Small pinch of salt
- 1-1.5 tablespoons good tequila (mine was cold from -20°C freezer)
- 2-3 limes’ worth of zest (I used 2 and wished I had another one – so if your limes are small, use 3. I will, next time.)
- Zest of 1 large orange. Or 1.5 smaller ones.
- 5dl or just over 2 cups of all-purpose (plain) flour.
- 1 1/4 dl (1/2 cup) granulated or caster sugar (I only had caster but it works fine)
- 2 teaspoons flaked sea salt (if using regular non-flaked salt, use 1 teaspoon or less!)
What you do:
- Beat the butter with a mixer until it’s fluffy, add the sugar and beat until it’s incorporated and pale.
- Add yolk, zest of lime and orange, salt, and tequila. Beat to incorporate.
- Add the flour and beat on low speed until it’s barely combined into crumbs. Stop.
- Using a silicone spatula or your hands, carefully mash the crumbs into a ball of dough. Warning!!! The dough is incredibly smooth and buttery and will tend to want to melt into your hands and pretend to be hand lotion. Don’t let it. Handle it as little as possible. In fact, I wrapped it in some plastic wrap and then mashed it together.
- Refrigerate the dough for about 10-15 minutes wrapped in plastic, then take out, and cut in half, placing halves on prepared pieces of plastic wrap.
- Shape each half into a rough log by wrapping it in the plastic, and rolling and mashing it out a bit. Wrap and refrigerate another 30 minutes.
- Take the logs out of the fridge, and finish shaping them (they will be noticeably firmer). I used a wooden cutting board on top of them and rolled them (still wrapped in plastic!) between the board and kitchen counter to get them to more or less even thickness. You can make them as thick or thin as you like – mine were about 3.5cm across when I was done. Note that cookies will expand a little bit when baked, and shape your log accordingly.
- Rewrap the logs tightly in the plastic wrap, twisting the ends to seal, and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or overnight (I did the latter).
- When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 180°C (350F) and place a piece of baking parchment on a cookie sheet.
- Mix coating ingredients together by putting it all in a mug and stirring vigorously with a fork.
- Place a piece of baking parchment on your counter (to avoid mess), and pour half of coating sugar/salt onto it. Spread a little.
- Zoe recommended painting the logs with another egg yolk, but I found that unnecessary. Unwrap one of your logs, and roll it around in the sugar, pressing down a bit, to coat well and thoroughly.
- Slice into 0.7-1cm thick slices, and place those on the baking sheet. If any slices get coating on one cut side, place them that side up. Repeat with the remaining coating and the other dough log.
- Bake for 12-17 minutes (depending on your oven and size of cookies). Mine baked in about 16 minutes. Take them out when the edges just barely, barely begin to turn golden.
- Cool on their sheet, and finish on a rack if you have one. Store in an airtight container for as long as you manage to store them (apparently they are meant to keep for up to 5 days. I suspect a week won’t do them much harm, but really, who in their right mind can manage to keep them around that long?!).
Certainly not us. I baked them for a party last Saturday, and they are already gone. All gone. I feel the urge to go out and buy a few limes and an orange already, to repeat the divine experience – but I won’t. I need to pace myself else I won’t fit into any pants after this holiday season. But… soon. Soon.