Monday, November 5, 2012

Immortal Lemon Cookies

Imagine you were given a longer time on this earth than others. You age more slowly, and you are able to spend years perfecting skills, learning languages, making millions, watching your world change around you… (Maybe even learning how to cook like a professional!)

But then you're given a choice. You could choose life, and live on for centuries, seeing things you never even dreamed were possible and play your role longer than everyone else.

Or, you could choose love. You could choose the greatest love, worthy of poetry and song, a love unlike anything you've experienced before. But this love will be your downfall. It will end and it will tear you open and it will (quite literally) be the death of you.

Luca Bastardo, the protagonist of Immortal, faces this choice. Without a second thought, without a moment's hesitation, he chooses love. He chooses suffering and death and loss over longevity. He knows nothing of his true love's identity, looks, home, or even when she might appear in his still-longer-than-ordinary lifespan… except for one thing. In a moment like a dream, he gets a whiff of a lemon-lilac scent, a perfume that carries him through decades of becoming a better person and surrounds her once they finally meet.

Meet my lemon zester
You may feel like I've told you a lot about this beautiful book, but I've barely scratched the surface of a long and full tale that I truly hope you choose to pick up and read. It isn't a popular book, and it isn't a perfect book. It is flawed, but that is beautiful.

These cookies (don't they look good?) are another recipe I can credit to my lovely mom… I mean, of course, that she found a recipe and handed it over, letting me do to it what I wished. The result was this. 

These cookies are tart and sweet, like love lost and gained. They are lemony, like the scent that haunts Luca most of his life (and I bet they'd taste great with lilacs as well, which are in fact edible). And they are delicate, melting in your mouth like another fleeting moment passing by. In plant symbology, lilacs represent innocence, and lemons, immortality. Can innocence last that long?

Immortal Lemon Cookies & Frosting

Lemon Cookies

1 c unsalted butter (room temperature)
¼  t salt
½ c powdered sugar

1 t vanilla (I still always like to use the paste rather than the extract)
Zest of 1-2 lemons (the recipe I based this on says one lemon, but I would definitely use more if I had it)
1 ½ c flour
½ c cornstarch

1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150 C) and prepare your baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, salt, and sugar until it's light and fluffy, for about 3 minutes (if using a mixer) or 8 (if by hand). 

3. If you're using a mixer, reduce the speed to low. If you're using your arm, slow down. Mix in the vanilla and lemon zest.

4. Sift the flour and cornstarch in and mix until just combined.

5. Roll the dough into evenly sized balls (mine were about the size of a paddleball) and squish them onto the baking sheet.

6. Bake for 20 minutes.

Lemon Frosting

½-1 c powdered sugar
¼ c unsalted butter (room temperature)
Juice of one lemon (one very big lemon, or two smaller ones- just use whatever you used as zest in the cookies)

Beat or whisk or mix all ingredients until it's fluffy! If you don't have a mixer, beat the butter separately first, then add the sugar and lemon juice. Add more powdered sugar if you want it thicker, and less if you prefer my drippy version.

These cookies are best enjoyed with a good Italian wine and a good book.

Picture courtesy of