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Monday, February 22, 2010

Zesty Winter Sweets

In case you haven't noticed, winter has seemed to hit everywhere a little harder this year. Last week, we were fortunate enough to receive a few feet of snow, enough to cancel class for the day and give me a chance to catch up. Thus, I don't mind the snow too much (probably because I don't  have to drive in it). Riding the bus, iPod playing, watching the snow is actually quite peaceful and calming.The inherent quiet and stillness that snow instills seems to me to be a nice reminder to just slow down and watch nature do its thing for a little while.

What can make the winter a little difficult though, is the gray skies that typically accompany the snow. They aren't just gray clouds, but instead an impenetrable gray that covers the sky. There, I think, lies the source of the infamous 'winter blahs.' While we've spent quite some time attributing this mysterious condition to the cold and combating it with soup, but this I decided to arm ourselves with a different, brighter approach.

While flipping through Dorrie Greenspan's Paris Sweets on my day off, I came across a bright recipe for lemon butter cookies that seemed like a perfect fit for the spring or summer. Initially, I thought I would tuck the recipe away for later use when it warms up. However after a weekend of sweet breakfast pastry baking expeditions, we happened to have a surplus of egg whites in the fridge, leading me to the idea for these bright, refreshing zingers to fight the winter blahs.

Winter snow, meet  spring time lemon zest. Make friends. 

The meringue is nothing spectacular, just your usually delicate puff of egg white sugar. The cookies are by themselves quite delicious (I added some extra zest to make them extra lemony), and I wrapped one log in wax paper and plastic and froze it for later use. Flavor wise, the meringue and extra lemony cookie balance together well, not a whole lot to say there. Texturally though, these little guys are incredible. As you bite into them, the cookie gives a nice crunch from the bottom, giving way to the soft chewy center of the cookie as the lemon taste invades your palate. Then, just before the lemon becomes too much,  the light airy meringue begins to into a sea of sweetness, complimenting and perfecting the taste of the lemon.
Whatever weather you happen to be experiencing this winter, I hope you'll give these a try to brighten up any winter blahs. And besides, when else do you get to use the weather as an excuse for making cookies!

Snow Capped Meringue Lemon Butter Cookies

Lemon Butter Cookies adapted from Paris Sweets
2 Stick Unsalted butter; room temperature
2/3 Cup Confectioners Sugar
1 Large Egg Yolk
Pinch of Salt
2 tsp Vanilla
Lemon Zest from Two Medium Lemon
2 tsp lemon juice
2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1.Combine butter and confectioners sugar and mix until smooth and silky. Add egg yolk, salt, vanilla and lemon zest; and juice, and continue mixing. Slowly add flour until just combined. /Divide in half. Roll each half into a ball. Place ball on piece of plastic wrap. Cover, and refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. Remove from fridge and roll into logs, between 1 and 1/1/2 inches thick. Wrap logs and chill for two hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheet with parchment paper.
*prepare meringue while oven preheats.*
4. Using a sharp knife, cut cookies from logs, about 1/4 inch thick. Place on baking sheet leaving 1/2" space.
5. Bake 8-10 minutes until cookies just begin to set (if not adding meringue, bake an additional 2-4 minutes).
6. Working quickly, remove cookies from oven. Carefully Pipe meringue swirls onto tops of cookies, making sure to keep meringue on the cookie, but getting as close to the edge as possible. (The warm cookie should help the bottom of the meringue to cook/set.
7. Place cookies back into warm oven. Cook for an additional 8-10 minutes or until meringue begins to set and brown. Remove from oven and carefully remove from pan. Allow to cool & enjoy!

Quick Meringue
4 Egg Whites
6 Tbsp Sugar
Using a clean, cool, glass or metal bowl, add egg whites. Beat until soft peaks begin to form. Slowly add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form and meringue is glossy. Carefully using a rubber spatula, add meringue into piping bag fitted with large tip. (Make enough meringue for 1/2 of butter cookie recipe.)


denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

Those look so pretty - they remind me of clouds, and a summer day. Great photos! :)

Rick said...

Those look delicious! Meringue is my favorite.

Linda said...

What a fabulous cookie! I will be making these Wednesday.

Chef Aimee said...

This made my night since there is more snow in the forecast for New York this week! I can't imagine anything more refreshing for dessert than these cookies.

Rambling Tart said...

Oh! These are SO cheery and cute! :-) Perfect for chasing away winter blahs for sure!!

Anonymous said...

These are so pretty! And they sound really light and just scrumptious!

Cocina Savant said...

@ deinse, rick, rambling tart, & 5 Star; Thanks!

@ Linda & Chef Aimee; Let me know how they turn out!

Cajun Chef Ryan said...

Okay, watching my sweets lately, but will have to make a BIG exception with these tasty morsels.

Stella said...

I love any kind of baked good with lemon, because they are so good with hot tea. I would love two of these with a hot cup of Moroccan mint tea-yum...

Diana's Cocina said...

Hi! I'm new to your blog and I'm loving it. Your creations look delish!

Anna said...

That is the cutest cookies ever, gray outside or not. :-)

Divina Pe said...

The lemon does fight the winter blahs. Here, it's bright and sunny but I don't mean to make you envious. I am actually dreaming of snow. Lemon butter cookies are always welcome anytime of the year. :)

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