Monday, April 2, 2007

Lemon Nutmeg Meltaways

My parents went on a two-week cruise to the Caribbean back in February, and one of the ports of call was Grenada. Grenada is well-known as a spice island, and I was lucky enough to receive a big bottle of whole nutmeg as a gift from my mom and dad. This is no ordinary nutmeg. I had to pull out the hammer to break off the outer shell to get to the nutmeg in the middle. This is the darkest, most fragrant nutmeg I have ever seen or smelled. It really puts my previous (so-called high-end) whole nutmeg to shame.

This cookie has everything right going for it...a tart citrus taste from the lemon rind combined with the aromatic warmth of the nutmeg as well as a slightly crisp exterior and a tender interior thanks to the combination of cake flour and cornstarch. These really are melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I like the simplicity of the cookie, too.

Lemon Nutmeg Meltaways

Source: Adapted from St. Petersburg Times newspaper

1 cup cake flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon rind
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

Sift cake flour, cornstarch, salt and nutmeg onto wax paper.

Beat butter, sugar and lemon rind with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sifted dry ingredients to butter mixture.

Beat on low speed until mixture is smooth. Roll dough by teaspoon into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Flatten slightly to 1 1/4-inch circles with bottom of glass dipped in confectioners' sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes, or until cookies have turned pale brown on edges. Let cookies sit on sheet 1-2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool. Sift with confectioners' sugar while still warm. Sift cookies again with confectioners' sugar when completely cooled, if desired.

Pack into airtight containers and store up to one week.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Notes: Use organic lemons since you are zesting the skin.

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