As I’m sure I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, all of my best ideas, particularly the writing-related ones, seem to come while I’m taking a shower. Basically, a lovely line emerges from the steam, then bounces around for a while, rephrased and repeated until it’s written to memory. It’s a Darwinian twist on the writing process I suppose, with only the strongest, most poetic words lasting long enough to make it from shower to keyboard. Of course, much like modern art, the greatness of any shower poet’s work is debatable. I once spent a luxurious 20-minute shower writing a ditty about how “feet, feet feet are so neat” for a then 4-month-old Beany. It got rave reviews. From 4-month-old Beany.
This Valentine-friendly cookie recipe came from that same familiar think tank. It was shower on, aha moment, followed quickly by: “Blurg! My hair’s all sudsy! I can’t write it down! Repeat, repeat, repeat!”
By no means am I claiming that these cookies are poetry, though citrus does tend to dance across the tongue in a rather lyrical fashion. Really, it’s but another vision from the shower, dreamed up in a place where words come to either exist or perish (in this case, most likely in the hour before lunchtime, as a hungry stomach invents more recipes than a full one).
With so many super sweet treats floating around on Valentine’s Day, I like the idea of a cookie that’s not so over-the-top sugary. These guys are just sweet enough, just zingy enough and, like any good shortbread, plenty buttery enough. Cut them into hearts, and they’re edible Valentines! Now that’s poetry to my ears.
Sweet Citrus Shortbread
• 2/3 cup white sugar
• 16 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
• 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoon orange zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and orange zest. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and orange juice, and mix to combine. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients and continue mixing until dough just begins to form.
Turn the dough onto a large lightly floured piece of parchment paper, and pat it into a disk about 1 ½ inches thick. Wrap the dough, then chill it for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the cookies out with a 2- or 2 ½-inch cookie cutter, and place them on a Silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until edges turn golden. Remove them from the sheet as soon as you’re able, and cool them on a wire rack.
How’s Valentine’s Day shaping up for you? Date night? Party with the kiddos? The DVR and lots and lots and lots of ice cream? All excellent choices, I must say.
Happy Valentine’s to you!