One thing you should know about me is that I am a chocolate fiend. And when it comes to cookies, I almost invariably demand that they contain chocolate. It doesn’t matter what else is thrown in – dried fruits, nuts, peanut butter, cereal. If there’s chocolate I will eat it (and probably yours, too), but if there’s not I will likely pass. On those rare occasions where I find myself gravitating towards a cookie without the slightest bit of chocolate, I have to take step back and question my values.
Which is why no one was more surprised than me when, a few weeks ago during a quick trip to Houston, I found bags of tiny key limes at Kroger (oh Kroger, how I miss you in the land of Shaws) and decided that of all the recipes I’d perused involving key limes, these meltaway cookies – where chocolate was nowhere in sight – were the way to go.
And what I discovered was that, hey, sometimes I don’t need chocolate. Sometimes a tart little cookie, as tiny as the key lime it’s named after and buried beneath a generous coating of powdered sugar, can work a kind of magic on your taste buds that chocolate can’t. Which isn’t to say that chocolate and I aren’t BFFs anymore. But there’s a new cookie in town, and chocolate is just going to have to deal with it.
Key Lime Meltaways
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Supposedly yields 5 dozen; I made mine a bit smaller and got around 8 dozen
A perk of this recipe is that it is egg-free, meaning that you can eat the dough shamelessly without hearing your mother’s voice in the back of your mind warning you about the dangers of consuming raw eggs. Yay!
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
Zest of 4 key limes
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed key lime juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (e.g., 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined.
Divide dough in half. Roll one half into a 1 1/4 inch-diameter log, then wrap in parchment paper. Repeat with other half of dough. Chill dough logs in refrigerator at least 1 hour.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Remove parchment from logs and slice dough into 1/4 inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets, slightly spaced apart (these cookies do not spread). Bake about 15 minutes, until cookies are slightly golden.
While cookies are baking, place remaining 2/3 cup sugar into a large resealable plastic bag.
Bake cookies until barely golden, about 15 minutes. Let cookies cool on slightly on tray until no longer too hot to touch. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss gently to coat. (The cookies are delicate so some may break. Those are the ones you eat yourself instead of giving to others.) Transfer cookies to wire racks to finish cooling completely.
Note: Dough logs can be frozen up to 1 month. When ready to bake, slice and add a few minutes onto baking time.