I think my cooking obsession started with being a poor college student. Why spend the money when I could recreate things at home for a fraction of the cost of buying it pre-made? It started with various dinner foods, then expanded to pastas and breads, and by that point I had more cuts and burns and destroyed kitchen utensils than I could count, but a much better appreciation for the value of a little effort and lots of time. So now, I run from recipe to recipe, still a poor college student, but rather than cooking to save money, I find myself doing it for the challenge or because often things made at home are just healthier, and closer to “real” food. My ideal situation is to own a place with a large kitchen and a large yard and do almost everything from scratch. So for those of you who have ever looked at something edible and though “Psh, I could TOTALLY make that at home”, here’s to you. :)
Recipe 1: Citrus Cookies
Notes: So, these cookies are a reaction to my love for limes and my general distaste for cookies. I made this recipe once with limes and then with oranges. Though the orange version was good-tasting, it was far less aromatic than the lime version. In addition, photos used here were from 3 different preps, I found out the hard way that these don’t flatten or rise in the oven, hence the round ball cookies in some pictures. You can make those, or roll and slice (like store-bought cookie doughs), or roll it out, chill, and then use a pretty cookie cutter.
- 12 tbsp room-temperature butter (no microwaving)
1/3 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
2-3 heaping tbsps of lime zest (smaller pieces rather than strips)
2 tbsp lime juice (from the zested limes)
1 tbsp real vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups AP (all purpose) flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon plain salt
Pre-heat oven to 350F. These cookies bake fast, and they are done when the edges are juuuuuust lightly browned.
Gather your ingredients, and make sure your butter has had time to soften. To expedite this process, you could use a rolling pin to knead the butter a bit, but it’s better to just leave the sticks out to soften while you do other things. The point of this is to allow a fluffy medium for the dry ingredients to become suspended in. If melted in a microwave, the butter liquid won’t be able to hold any air. It’s just like milk versus whipped cream. I am fortunate to have a stand mixer, so I just add the butter to the bowl and using the whisk attachment, whip it a bit while I add the vanilla, lime zest, and lime juice. Once it’s nice a fluffy, I switch out to the paddle attachment and add the dry ingredients, making sure I sift the cornstarch and the flour together before adding to the cookie mixture. Once everything is combined and smooth, I turn the dough out to sit between two sheets of wax paper that are about the size of my cookie sheet. I roll the dough out between the paper so it fits the pan and then pop it onto the freezer for 5-7 minutes. (This dough also freezes well if you want to save some for later.)
Once firm, I pull off the top piece of wax paper and bust out any of my pretty cookie cutters and carefully peel them off the wax paper and onto a prepared cookie sheet with ungreased parchment paper on it. They don’t expand much, so whatever shape you want, go for it. Spacing doesn’t need to be more than 1/2 inch between, so you can fit on a bunch.
Pop into the oven and set your timer for 5 minutes. As some ovens aren’t “true to temperature” (ours is 50F off!), a check at this point can save the cookies if you’re running hot. Usually depending on the weather it takes between 7-15 minutes for these to be nice and done. We’re looking for lightly golden edges, but really, they’ll be firm and cookie-like and pale as a sheet if you take them out early. Chewiness isn’t an option here.
Once cooled, transfer to a bowl (or plastic bag) of powdered sugar and dust them. Another option is to cool them on the pan and sift powdered sugar over them (the prettier version). Enjoy and make sure you fling some at friends and family!