I’ve often said that when life gives me lemons, I make lemon thumbprint cookies.
For years now, this Bon Appetit recipe has been a source of comfort and relaxation — the process is so easy that these cookies are truly therapeutic to bake.
I suppose my friends may know by now that these tend to appear when I’m under some stress. There’s no stress in the air this July 4 weekend, however. (Unless you count my mammoth struggles with baking ciabatta for the first time — more on that later.)
Just a desire to create sweets with somewhat festive hues — yellow, red and sort-of-purplish blue come close enough for me.
Hey, I wasn’t about to whip out the food coloring.
An old friend asked me recently about my thoughts on food we eat for holidays for her Web site, Discussion Divas. I noted that while hot dogs may not have much historical meaning — somehow, I don’t think folks were whipping out the Oscar Mayer in 1776 — it’s important to mark holidays with certain types of food not just because it gives you a good excuse to sit around the dinner table and catch up.
“Marking these holidays with specific foods is also a way for families to pass down traditions from grandmother to mother, mother to daughter, in the kitchen,” I told Stacey. “Too much of that is lost these days, with people being too busy to cook, much less cook with their families. Such holidays are a good way to keep some of those traditions–and recipes–alive.”
Growing up in Singapore, I spent little time in the kitchen — and I’m devoting this year to making up for lost time before the grandmother and aunties holding the recipes in my family aren’t around any more.
I was thinking about that as I made my yellow, red and blue cookies for this holiday that I’ve been celebrating for 15 years in America.
As culinary traditions go, red, white and blue food is a new one in my family.
Perhaps I’ll share this cookie recipe with my Singaporean aunties the next time I’m back.
Lemon Thumbprint Cookies
Bon Appetit, August 1999
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons grated lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 21/2 cups all purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons (about) jam or jelly
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 2 baking sheets. Using
electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter and sugar in large bowl until well
blended. Beat in egg yolks, lemon peel, lemon juice and salt. Add flour
in 2 additions and beat just until moist clumps form. Gather dough
together in bowl to bind dough. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Place
balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Using finger,
make deep indentation in center of each ball.
Bake cookies until firm to
touch and golden on bottom, about 22 minutes. Remove from oven.
Immediately fill indentation in each cookie with scant 1/2 teaspoon jam
or jelly. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.
(Can be made 2
days ahead. Store between sheets of waxed paper in airtight container
at room temperature. Cookies will soften slightly.)