Key Lime Sublime Cookies

Originally, I created these light, zippy zesty key lime cookies for an Easter party.

As the unofficial state fruit of Florida, my home state, though, the Key Lime is right for anytime.

Today, these mouthwatering morsels greet visitors to my ‘NEW’ old historic home bed and breakfast, The Epic WPB, in West Palm Beach, Florida. I put a tray of them into every room, every stay.

The Half, at The Epic, a private casita at The Jazz Chef’s B&B in West Palm Beach,
books on Airbnb

Are you from a part of the world where the “Key” lime isn’t prime? This recipe has your back: We have improvisations for Makrut magic, Persian perfection, or Desert deliciousness!

TEACHABLE MOMENTS

This is a “thinking” recipe. Yes, you can make a sinfully badassly impressive cookie by just following the steps.

If “why” fascinates you, though, and you seek true culinary creativity, don’t skip this part that will unleash your improvisational power!

Ratiosity: It’s as Easy as 3-2-1…

You can easily scale this recipe up, or down, because this is a riff on the standard 3-2-1 sugar cookie.

Sugar cookies’ sweet spot is a ratio:  3 parts flour, to 2 parts sugar, to 1 part fats (shortening).  Put the goods together that way, add a little egg, and maybe a flavor, and bake, and you have sugar cookies.

How do you figure the ratios out?

METRIC MAGIC

Weigh

Dump your inaccurate measuring cups. If you’re in Burma, Liberia or the United States, go metric!

The beauty of using metric weights and measures, like 99% of the nations of the world, is that you can easily do the math up or down. It’s just base-10.

300g? 150g is half. 100g is one-third.

Scale the ingredients to 12 cookies, or 48, or 64, or…

So, to do our ratios, on a 3-2-1 sugar cookie, if we had 300g of flour, we’re going to have 200g of sugar, and 100g of shortening and other fats, including those found natively in the egg yolk.

  • No more pile of measuring gear in your sink, or dishwasher.
  • No more asking “How many 1/8ths of a teaspoon is THAT supposed to be?!!!”
  • Superstition-free facts!

INGREDIENTS THAT MATTER

Take No Short-ening Cuts

You are only as good in the kitchen as the dishes that you turn out. They’re only as good as your ingredients.

Shortening always matters. Don’t cut down on the fats. Use better ones!

My recommend?  Nutiva Organic Coconut/Red Palm Shortening. It gives this cookie an amazing, light, balanced taste.

Crisco, or animal-based fats, will radically alter the taste. If you read my articles on oils and fats most of the volume seed oils are made with hexane, a gasoline derivative, to get every last drop out of the source seeds. Pretty gross.

Don’t use straight coconut oil, either. It’s a low-temp fat without the structure and temperature range, that Red Palm gives this shortening.  Sub coconut oil only, and expect some mushy cookies.

If Nutiva’s shortening isn’t available, use as light a non-hydrolyzed vegetable shortening, as you can. Hydrolyzed fats, which are both toxic to you, and far less tasty, make your cookies taste a bit worse, too.

Juice? I’ll Take Manhattan…

 The key to Key isn’t found in Florida, or the mucky Mexican land where they try to imitate Key Limes. Peru’s brackish inlets make their lime juice truly sublime!

I know that it’s heresy, living as I do in the Sunshine State, not to have Nellie’s as your go-to for an authentic Key Lime cookie, but, truly, there’s not that much “authentic” about Nellie’s juice anymore.

What makes these cookies AMAZING?

They are only as good at the juice that you use in the recipe. That defines their taste. Manhattan has the bolder flavor, by far.

Fresh Key Limes are pretty much extinct in Florida, except for a rare seasonal occasion. Most of the fresh limes that we get in the U.S. come from Mexico, more often than not from places without the brackish, sulphurous soil that gives key limes their distinctive taste.

Which is why the best key limes generally come from… Peru!

Read up on Manhattan Key Lime juice to understand why the island that matters is in the City that Never Sleeps.

LIVING IN A KEY-LIME-FREE ZONE?

Don’t have access to key lime anything?  Makrut (kafir) or Desert lime can work, but isn’t quite the same flavor.

80% makrut lime to 20% pineapple juice will get you a bit closer to the real deal.

To Refrigerate (OR NOT). That is the Question.

There is a great deal of cookie superstition. To refrigerate, or not?

If you use the dough fresh, out of the mixer, you tend to get a lighter, fluffier cookie.

Use nitrile kitchen-grade gloves to keep the sticking to your hands down to a minium while formed. You have to be a bit more delicate in your touch. They may bake up a bit shorter, because the protein structures from the eggs are looser, and will form and tighten faster.

My bias is toward refrigeration. It hardens the fats in the dough. Baking it makes a slightly more dense, chewy cookie, which I personally prefer.

YIELD

24 cookies of 30 g. each.

THE GEAR

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(MISE EN PLACE)

THE STUFF

COOKIES

Dry Ingredients:

  • 300 g. / 1 2/3 cups King Arthur Organic All-Purpose Flour;
  • 20 g. / 1.5 tbsp. coconut flour;
  • 150 g. / 1.25 cups Kirkland Organic Sugar;
  • 13 g. / 1 tbsp. baking powder;
  • 4 g. /1/2 tsp Himalayan Pink salt;
  • Zest of 3 large to 5 small fresh key limes (OR 2 small makrut limes; 1 US lime).

Fats:

Wet Ingredients:

FOR KEY LIME GLAZE

  • 140 g. / 1 cup powdered sugar;
  • 30 ml. / 2 tbsp. Key Lime juice (or 20 ml makrut lime juice and 10 ml pinapple juice);
  • 2 drops yellow food dye;
  • 1 drop green food dye;
  • A few drops of water.

THE HOW-TOS.

Pull out your digital scale, and a mini glass prep bowl. Don’t have one? Get one! Push the power button, and set to grams. Put the bowl on the scale. Hit the power, or tare, if your scale has a separate button, to tare out the weight of the bowl.

Add the dry ingredients by weighing each. Put the mixer work bowl on the scale. Turn it on. It will “tare” (zero out) the weight of the bowl. Add the flour.

Flour

Tare (zero out) the weight of the bowl and the other ingredient(s) by pressing the tare button. Add the remaining dry ingredients, taring between each, to get the proper weight in grams.

Using your microplaner, zest the key limes into the dry flour.

Mix dry ingredients and the and the key lime zest with a paddle mixer until distributed.

Add the shortening and mix on low until integrated, so it looks like a crumble.

Put the wet ingredients . Mix until the mass holds together. If it is still looking like crumble, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it gathers together.

How it looks in motion…

You can use it right away. Grab a pair of nitrile gloves, or wet your hands a bit to work with it, because it will be a whole lot stickier, and more delicate. I like the dense taste of a chewy cookie, so I would recommend refrigerating it for 2+ hours.

  • Pull the dough ball out, and put it into a work bowl;
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap
  • Stick it in the refrigerator, and let stand for 2-3 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator.

PREHEAT

Preheat your oven to 175°c / 350°F. Put your digital thermometer into the oven to check the temp when hot. Adjust as necessary, and call your oven’s repair people to recalibrate it if it’s significantly (+/- 10) off.

Pull out a 30 g. hunk of dough from your work bowl and put into the glass mini prep bowl to weigh it.

Weigh

Weighing your cookie dough keeps the yield of your recipe more consistent. If you have 720 grams of material divide by 24 cookies, you have a 30 g. cookie.

Space about 2” apart on whatever non-stick cookie sheet or silicone mat that you choose to use.

Bake at  for 8-11 min. or until the tops are dry, and soft, but solid. Remove and cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before icing.

GLAZE RIBBONS

Put the powdered sugar into the mixing bowl, then the food color, then the lime juice.

Whisk together. Add a few drops of water to get the consistency of the icing to very thick wallpaper paste.

Grab your squirt bottle, and your funnel. Use your spatula to put the glaze/icing into the bottle. Put the top on.

To ice, get a silicon mat (easiest) or a large piece of parchment paper and place the cookies on it. Make the glaze and put into a squirt bottle with a med-fine nozzle top.

Squirt glaze on to cookies, using a back-and-forth motion. Let dry completely, at least 30 min to an hour.

Store, in your airtight container, or serve.

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