Though they probably don’t actually prevent scurvy, I’d like to think these sweet-tart little bites do. *Arrrr* I’ve been wanting to try them out for sometime, having seen the raves Deb of Smitten Kitchen gave them ages ago. Originally from Martha, they’re standard icebox cookies (mix, chill, slice, and bake), that get tossed in powdered sugar immediately after baking for a little extra sweetness and to enhance their tender, crumbly, melting texture. The real attraction of these, however, was the key lime aspect.
I love lime, as does Grampy J, who will be getting most of this batch. I thought, though, that while there was zest and juice in the dough, that was not nearly enough. While lime zest is notorious for its irritating habit of getting all brown and gross when baked or left out to oxidize, I decided that MORE ZEST was necessary, both in the dough and in the sugar coating. I figure more zest in the dough would be fine; even if they browned unattractively, the finished cookies would be tossed in sugar. I was slightly concerned about putting zest in the sugar itself–there was none in the original recipe–and I will admit to having visions of brown, bitter zest and clumpy-lumpy sugar.
Mercifully, the lime sugar worked out really well. The lime stayed green in the sugar, and gave it an extra limey bite and a lovely floral fragrance. It did clump a bit, but leaving it to dry out overnight in the fridge (no big as the dough needs to chill too) and a minute with a rolling pin put the sugar to rights in a jif.
12 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 c confectioners’ sugar
Microplane’d zest of 8 small (marble-sized) key limes, divided
2 tbs freshly squeezed key lime juice
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 c plus 2 tbs flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add half of the lime zest, the lime juice, and the vanilla; beat until smoothly incorporated.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined. On a cool, lightly floured surface, roll dough into two 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill overnight.
Finely mince the remaining zest. Place remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag and add the zest. Mix, and–leaving the bag open–place in the fridge overnight.
The next day, or whenever you’re ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Remove parchment from logs; slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart.
Bake cookies until barely golden, 15-18 minutes. (Mine never really browned on top–when they were lightly browned on the bottoms, I pulled them.) While the cookies are baking, remove the bag of sugar from the refrigerator. Press out all the air and seal. Using a rolling pin, crush the sugar to remove any clumps. Transfer finished cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, just one or two minutes. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag a few at a time, tossing to coat. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.