Tag Archives: vanilla

Repeat Offender

I know what you’re thinking, more cookies. Particularly now, when we’re all supposed to be concerned with eating healthy and losing weight? You could certainly be forgiven for having no patience with me.

Excerpt for this: these lime meltaway cookies are so good that I made them twice in a week.

The first time, for my mother’s birthday I served them alongside a rich chocolate cake (rest assured, I’ll get to that recipe, too). The cake was delicious, and yet, these cookies stole the show. The lime keeps them just shy of being decadent, preventing them from becoming too cloying. After all, there’s a fair amount of sugar in the recipe.

And the texture.

It goes without saying that cookies called “meltaways”, um, melt in your mouth. They’re shortbread’s sophisticated cousin, quite and unassuming with a taste that lingers at the end, just slightly. Although, if you want a more crunchy outer texture, you can finish them with sanding sugar, rather than confectioners’, as I did with part of round two.

Either way, these lime meltaways are the perfect cookie to have alongside your post dinner coffee, and they’d be equally at home in a holiday cookie box. In other words, file this recipe away for the 2012 holiday season. They’d be perfect, too, as they’re essentially ice box cookies. So, you can make them ahead and store them in your freezer as you’re prepping the rest of your cookies.

So, as per usual, I’m out of step. You can’t really be surprised, though, given that I cooked a Thanksgiving meal two weeks after the holiday and host a “Summer” picnic each October. And, maybe sending your friends and family boxes of cookies post holiday is just the thing they need to get through the winter doldrums.

Lime Meltaways
Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart’s Cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup confectioners sugar, plus another 2/3 cup if you’re coating the cookies in confectioners’ sugar* (Otherwise, you’ll need 1/4 cup sanding sugar)
Zest of 2 limes, grated
2 TBS fresh lime juice
1 TBS vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 TBS cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Cream butter and 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar until it is pale and fluffy. Add the lime zest, lime juice and vanilla, and mix until fluffy.

Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. Add to butter mixture, and mix until just combined.

Divide dough in half. Place each half on an 8-by-12-inch sheet of parchment paper. If you’re using sanding sugar, roll the formed logs in the sugar to coat it at this point. Roll in parchment to form a log 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Refrigerate logs until cold and firm, at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove parchment from logs; cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space rounds 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 13 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. If you are coating the finished cookies in confectioners’ sugar, while the cookies are still warm, toss cookies with remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag.

Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

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Well, that seems about right.

Remember my kinda sorta planning?

About that.

It began in earnest around midnight that night. File this under: it seemed like a good idea at the time. If you’ve been following along, this should come as no surprise.

In my defense, it was all in the service of a good idea: namely, cinnamon ice cream.

Since I was making a Thanksgiving themed dinner, I wanted to hit all of the traditional notes—to me, that means some sort of variation on pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream. Mind you, my family has spent more Thanksgivings than most in restaurants, so my conception of traditional Thanksgiving may be a little skewed. And that seemed boring.

Cinnamon ice cream seemed to encapsulate exactly what I was trying to achieve—the traditional flavor in a slightly different format. In other words, it was perfect.

But, if I was going to include it, I needed to get started right away. And, so, there I was tempering eggs at 1 in the morning. I’m nothing if not dedicated.

You could certainly make ice cream over in several hours, but I tend to think it’s one of those things that’s better made over the course of two days, in order to ensure that your custard base has enough time to cool. However you do it, don’t leave out the straining step—it ensures that, if you haven’t tempered the eggs properly, your ice cream will still be creamy.

And, isn’t that the whole point?

Well, that and the indulgence of it, anyway.

Cinnamon Ice Cream
Method courtesy of The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
4 egg yolks
pinch of kosher salt

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, setting the them aside and reserve the outside.

In a medium saucepan, warm one cup of the heavy cream, the milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla seeds, allowing everything to come to simmer. Be careful not to bring the mixture to a boil. After the mixture comes to a simmer, remove it from the heat, cover it and let it steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.

While the infused cream is cooling, pour the remaining cup of heavy cream into a large bowl, and put fine mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks together.

Once the infused cream has finished cooling, slowly pour it into the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Then, whisk the warmed egg yolks and cream back into the saucepan. Stirring the mixture constantly using a heatproof spatula, heat over a medium flame. Take care to scrape the bottom of the saucepan as you stir. Once the mixture thickens and coats the spatula the custard is ready. Pour it through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Add in the vanilla bean and stir, until cooled.

Chill the mixture in your refrigerator until you are ready to churn. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructors.

Makes One Quart

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Waste Not, Want Not

As it turns out, I find myself often lacking the motivation to cook the thing I originally intended. Naturally, this tends to happen well after I’ve already purchased all of my ingredients.

All of this is a long way of saying, that I won’t be sharing a recipe for salted caramels with you today. Trust me, I’m as upset as you are about this. They sounded amazing—chewy, flecked with vanilla and finished with a crunch of salt. And, I still have high hopes that I’ll make them one day.

I could tell you about how this chai vanilla ice cream is perfect for this time of year, despite the snow on the ground and intense cold because the spices are both warming and comforting. But, we’d both know that I was lying, or more accurately, being just the slightest bit self serving. Make no mistake, the ice cream has warming spices and will make your house smell wonderful—like somewhere you should stay put—as you cook, but that’s not why I made it.

In all honesty: I had heavy cream that was about to go bad, and I couldn’t bear to let it go to waste.

The ice cream comes together fairly easily, thanks to the use of a blender, which makes tempering the egg yolks a snap. And, the almond milk isn’t necessary. Regular would work well, I just didn’t have any. But, I think it lends the desert a mellowing layer. Work with whatever you have on hand.

Or, at risk of being presumptious, go out and buy it. Who knows what wonderful food you’ll come up with as the ingredients are about to go to waste.

Vanilla Chai Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream, divided into 2 1-cup portions
1 cup almond milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla pod, with seeds scraped out and pod reserved
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Heat 1 cup of heavy cream, one cup of almond milk, vanilla pods and seeds and the rest of the spices over a low flame until it comes to a simmer. Once it is simmering, add the sugar and allow the mixture to continue heating until the sugar is dissolved and the spices have infused, about 10-15 minutes. Take care that your mixture does not boil.

Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.

Place the egg yolks in a blender and mix, streaming in infused cream slowly until both are well incorporated.

Add the rest of the heavy cream to the blender and mix.

Chill your ice cream base until is has completely cooled, then churn according to your ice cream maker instructions.

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