I started this post once already. To be exact, I had almost completely finished it and was adding the very last photo. And then it happened. I noticed things slowing down a bit, then stalling, and although I tried to quickly save the post as a draft, it was too late. My connection was lost, and so was my writing.
You do understand that this did not make me smile, yes?
And so I have waited a couple of days to try again because there’s nothing worse than having to write something all over again, is there?
Moving right along…
I recently learned that Victoria Magazine is back in publication. Although I am quite excited by this, I’m also hesitant, in much the same way one might be if given the opportunity to do something wonderful all over again, and have it turn out less than expected, ruining lovely memories. I had been a devoted subscriber of this remarkable magazine for years, and then former Editor-in-Chief, Nancy Lindemeyer left. The magazine changed, leaving those of us inspired by its beauty wondering what would happen. It was still a pleasant magazine, but it just wasn’t the same. Because my career had also taken a new direction that would eliminate much of the free time I had to lounge with magazines, I canceled my subscription. In 2003, publication stopped.
I gave all but one or two of my saved magazines to my mother, who loved them. I saved this one because of the cookies on the cover. They’re amazing and I’ve made them many times over the years since I learned to pipe that lovely icing. Unfortunately, I’m completely out of practice — or perhaps it’s patience, as my hand is not quite a steady as it once was. But now that I’m back in the saddle, I’m ready for Christmas, and Valentine’s Day. Cookies, anyone?
Ricki Arno’s Butter Cookies, published in the February 1998 edition of Victoria, are flavored with fresh lemon, no spice, and melt in your mouth. They’ve inspired me to create my own recipe with flavors that are more in line with the colors on my Fall Leaves. I couldn’t resist those beautiful cookie cutters when Martha Stewart came out with them. Or the snowflakes, or the hearts. I’m hopeless, but I love these cookies.
Kelly’s Cardamom & Lime Sugar Cookies
1 c. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 c. extra fine sugar
1 lg. egg, slightly beaten
Grated zest from 2 limes, about 1 T
1/2 tsp. cardamom
2-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. sifted confectioner’s sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
juice from 1 lime
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. This can be done by hand easily as well. Beat in the egg and lime zest just until mixed.
In another bowl, sift flour and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring each time before adding more. Beat until well combined.
Divide dough into two pieces, flattening each between two sheets of plastic wrap and then tightly wrapping before placing in the fridge for at least 2 hours. This can be done ahead of time, and then left over night if you choose.
After chilling, unwrap flattened dough, but leave between the plastic sheets to roll (about 1/8-1/4″ thickness). You can roll the dough on a cold, lightly floured surface, if you prefer.
Quickly stamp the dough with your chosen shapes, and if necessary, return to the fridge for about 10 minutes before removing the sheets to a baking sheet.
Baking sheets can be ungreased, lined with parchment, or silicone. Bake for about 7 minutes just before the edges begin to show brown. Watch them carefully.
Remove from oven and let rest on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before placing them on rack to cool completely.
Decorate as desired using the icing above, or one of your own. The cookies also taste excellent without icing, right from the oven.
Notes: I learned to ice cookies through much trial and error and with guidance from Martha Stewart Living which had a great feature on it one year. (Here, let me dig through all my back issues to find it…NOT) I was fascinated by the whole process and had to learn. I use Wilton color, and pre-cut triangles of parchment that I shape and tape together. I use piping tips and couplers, but also find a paper tip just as nice for this type of cookie. I use a 5 tip for flooding, or a 2 tip if the icing is thin. A 1-tip is for small dots and thin lines, but as the icing begins to harden, it can get stuck in the tip at times.
The colors I chose for my leaves ended up differently than I’d intended, but that’s what makes this so interesting to me. I play and experiment. I usually start with one color and do all the cookies I expect to have that color on. This time, I outlined first, creating the dike that would hold the thinner icing I’d spread inside, which has a tendency to flow over the edges or into the next section. When I’m finished outlining, I can then thin the icing to use in the center as well.
To make designs in the interiors, I flood, then while still wet, add other colors. As it dries, the icing will be flat. To add texture, I wait until the frosting is dry, then add detail on the top.
It’s challenging for me to make just one design, but it’s actually more simple if you plan to do that. You only have to mix a few colors, and it goes fairly quickly. I get bored, and then impatient, so there ends up being several “styles” of cookies by the time I’m done.