23 April, 2012

Experiments in … baking!

Sister enjoying the sweet simplicity of wisteria in bloom.  aaaaaah.

There are some times in life in which all of the disparate ingredients of the moment come together so beautifully as to create an even more perfect experience.  You know those moments, right?  It doesn’t have to be a big event.  In fact, it could be something so simple and sweet that it just takes your breath away with its purity.  A summer sunset after a gentle rain.  A four-leaf clover in a field of weeds.  The first time a baby smiles.  A string of green lights when you’re driving toward your holiday destination. 

Summer Sunset over Pohnpei, FSM - 2011

Baking is like this.  It is like intentionally creating one of these moments and then allowing it to nourish you from the inside out.  The cookies I made this weekend are like this.  They are like little perfect moments to savor whenever you need them. 

In my last post I mentioned making Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies.  You may remember that those cookies came out a little too lavendery … even for someone like me who loves eating lavender.  Well, here I’ve taken that same Joy the Baker recipe and adapted it again.  This time I made them into Coco-Lime Shortbread Cookies.  They weren’t gluten-free as I was running too low on the gluten-free flour, but they were delicious!  Very subtle coconut sweetness peeked out through the rich buttery cookie base.  And the lime brightened the whole thing and kept it from being too rich or heavy.  I was quite pleased.  These little cookies are like serendipitous coins of delight.  Yes, I did just type that.  And, yes, I even meant it, too.  If you whip up a batch yourself, I think you’ll see what I mean.  Go ahead … do it!  You know you want to!  Let yourself have a beautiful moment.  You deserve it!

Coco-Lime Shortbread Cookies
(adapted from Joy the Baker)

Makes about 30 cookies.


2 T. unsweetened coconut shavings (the little kind, not the big flakes)

zest of 2 limes

½ c. + 1 t. granulated sugar

2 sticks room temperature plugra butter (you can also use regular unsalted butter, if you wish)

2-3/4 c. all-purpose flour

¼ t. Himalayan sea salt

extra sanding sugar, for coating (or, even better, lime sugar to coat!)


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, add butter and sugar.  Cream on medium-low speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the coconut and the lime zest.  Mix on low only enough to incorporate.  Add the flour/salt mixture in three turns, mixing on low speed after each turn to combine.  The dough will likely be quite crumbly, but should come together as it mixes.  If, after about 5 minutes of mixing the entire batter, it still isn’t holding its form, then sack the mixer and get your [clean] hands in there and knead it until it is.  Dump the dough out onto a clean surface and for into two logs with your hands.  (If logs are too unwieldy, you can form into balls.)  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper and set aside. 

Place sanding sugar (or lime sugar) in a rectangular container.  (I used a small ceramic baking dish.)  Set aside.

When dough has been cooled sufficiently, remove logs from refrigerator and unwrap.  Roll each log in sanding sugar to coat.  (You may need to cut the log of dough in half to fit inside your sugar container.  No biggie … do what you need to do!)  Once your dough is nicely bathed in sugar, take a very sharp knife and slice it into ¼ inch rounds.  Easy breezy!

Preheat oven to 350°F. 

Place rounds on lined cookie sheet(s).  Refrigerate for another 5 minutes while oven is preheating.  Then pop these little buttons in the oven.  Bake for 6 minutes, rotate your pan, and finish baking for 6 more minutes.  (Note: Since ovens vary, your timing may be different.  Keep an eye on your cookies, and don’t let them burn, okay?)

Allow cookies to cool on the pan for about 5 minutes.  Then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cook for another 10 minutes or so. Then … savor each beautiful bite!

Lime Sugar

Lime zest (how much you add is really up to how limey you like things … I’d start with 1 lime)

½ c. sanding sugar (or whatever sugar you’re feeling, or have on hand, really)


In a small spice grinder (or coffee grinder, food processor or mortar + pestle) grind up the sugar the zest.  Presto!  You now have lime sugar!

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