Alex loves limes. I mean, loves them. He eats them, and no, I don’t mean dusted in sugar. No, not squeezed into a glass of seltzer. He simply eats them, the way that most people eat those slices of oranges that come with your fortune cookies at suburban Chinese restaurants. He eats the wedges that people put out on their bars for cocktails, the slices that come on top of a pile of Pad Thai, those on the side of a sizzling fajita platter and the other half I haven’t used in a recipe, lying unloved on the cutting board.
The first time I saw him do it, I was taken aback. “Did you just eat a lime?” Perhaps it was because it was from my gin and tonic, it was an early-on date and he’d obtained it in a “Are you using that?” kind of way. But I loved that he didn’t think it was the least bit odd. I love that now we’ll be at a party or bar and one of our friends will notice his lime-eating ways for the first time and be shocked.
I seriously think they dipped his baby bottle in vinegar. It’s the only logical explanation.
The limes at the small grocery store we frequent more often than it deserves our hard-won dollars are now 60 cents apiece. (That thud you hear is my mother fainting. I mean, sure, they’re in the Canadian Rockies but I suspect that she knows that somewhere, one of her daughters is paying too much for food.) Oh, and they’re lousy. I mean, when you pay 60 cents for a lime, you hope to get at a bare minimum the two tablespoons of lime juice you’ll need for a recipe, but no such luck.
I was about to put a kibbosh on buying limes (not that I would. Or could. If you could make someone happy at 60 cent intervals, how could you not?) when I did what I should have done eons ago, and wandered into the Manhattan Fruit Exchange and what do you know, they had these bags of 18 well, somewhat busted but totally good-hearted tiny key limes for $1.99. I thought I’d won the lottery, especially when I squeezed more than a tablespoon and a half of juice from one, one-inch lime.
Thud. The lime obviously doesn’t fall far from the tree.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying that you can expect a couple lime-based recipes this week while I work through them, but just one for now. I was horrified to learn that Alex had never had a meltaway cookie growing up. They’re tart and sharp in the middle, but rolled in powdered sugar, keeping the bite in check and giving them their melty qualities. They sounded like they’d be right up his alley, and this Martha Stewart recipe is so simple, it was worth turning the oven on for this weekend. You’ll never even consider those packaged ones again.
Key Lime Meltaways
Adapted from Martha Stewart
You can make these with regular limes as well, but if you run into some key limes, they’re worth it. Trust me and my resident lime addict.
You could also keep the logs frozen for up to two months, and use them as the meltaway craving hits.
Yield: 5 dozen
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks, 170 grams or 6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (120 grams) confectioners’ sugar, divided
Grated zest of 4 tiny or 2 large key limes
2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (235 grams) all-purpose flour (a.k.a. 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; beat until fluffy.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined.
Between two 8-by-12-inch pieces of parchment paper, form dough into two 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Chill at least 1 hour.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. 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, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, just three or four minutes. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss to coat. Bake or freeze remaining dough. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.