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Sherry Yard's Thumbprint Lime Meltaways


JFLinLA
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I decided to make this recipe from S. Yard's book for Mother's Day. It's on page 321 but is really a combination of the cookie recipe on page 187 and the curd recipe on page 75. As with any first time with a recipe, I followed it exactly. Unfortunately, the Lime Meltaway cookie part of the recipe did not retain it's shape. The cookies spread out completely into thin, crispy disks. So rather than having a nice little indentation to fill with lemon curd, I ended up sandwiching the disks together with the curd. Tasty, yes. But not what I was going for. I baked these at home in my Kitchenaid convection oven which I was pretty sure had been properly preheated. (I believe it was even at least 10-15 minutes after reaching temp before I put the dough in.)

I have plenty of curd left and would like to try again but would appreciate any advice.

Here is what I am planning to do for the next attempt:

1. Check that the oven is at the right temp with the thermometer I have.

2. Bake only one sheet of cookies at a time.

3. After shaping the balls of dough with the thumbprints, freeze (or at least re-chill) the dough before baking.

What do you think?

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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For those of us who don't have Yard's book.....it would be most helpful if you posted

the recipe for the cookies! That way it's a lot easier to troubleshoot your "spreading"

problem, and possible procedures that may have caused it!

Cheers! :laugh: Annie

:wub: I love troubleshooting!

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Okay, here's the lime-meltaway recipe:

1/2 pound of butter, melted, browned then rechilled till solid.

3 Tablespoons lime zest

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups flour sifted

With the paddle attachment, cream butter, zest and juice until cream colored. Scrape down bowl and add sugar and salt. Cream till smooth and lump free. Scrape down, add flour on low speed and beat just till incorporated. Wrap dough in plastic and chill.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on lined baking sheets. Press thumb into each ball to create a concave center. Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes, until light golden brown. Dust generously with additional powdered sugar. Cool, then fill indentations with lemon curd.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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Gosh!

What an odd way to mix that cookie!

It seems that that whole procedure incorporates more air in the dough than is needed.

The more air you incorporate into a cookie dough, the more likely it is to spread.

Since you want these things to retain most of their shape, think "no air"!

Here's how I would mix these cookies:

Cream the butter with the powdered sugar just til smooth.....don't make it fluffy.

In fact, after I browned the butter and re-chilled it, I would bring it out of the fridge

to come to near room temp before I attempted to mix it.

Then add your juice, zest and salt, mix a little on low speed, scrape down bowl, then

mix again (on low) til smooth.

Then add your flour and mix til incorporated.

Wrap dough and chill.

OR

Scoop your dough straight from the bowl into your little one inch balls, then chill.

Much easier.

Remove the amount of dough balls from the fridge that you want, place them on

your baking sheet and give 'em that little thumbprint. It probably is wise to bake these

right from the fridge....a cold dough should prevent some spreading.

Then bake. Hopefully they will not spread this time!

Let me know how it goes, huh?

:wub: Annie

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After reading this thread and being a cookie baker at heart I just had to respond. My recommendations in addition to those you already mentioned would be: after chilling the brown butter don't let it get to warm when you cream it (65 to 68 degrees is best). Weigh the sugar and flour to make sure that there is the correct ratio of fat to sugar and flour. Weights for these items can be found in many books including Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Cake Bible" and "Pie and Pastry Bible". I usually use 5oz for a cup of flour and 4oz for a cup of powdered sugar. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour, not just 30 minutes, use cold cookie sheets, and chill the cookies again after forming. Carole Walter in her book "Great Cookies" also recommends increasing the baking temp by 25 degrees to cook the outside of the cookies quicker and this assumes that you know the accuracy of the temp in the oven to start with. I have made this kind of cookie before and prefer to use bright (non black) cookie sheets. I will try to make a batch of these this week and see what happens. Good luck to you and keep trying.

PS I just noticed Annie's comments and agree hole heartedly. In fact Sherry notes in the recipe that the entire creaming should take no more than 3 minutes at medium speed and she cautions not to over beat the dough when adding the flour.

Edited by FWED (log)

Fred Rowe

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Yes, I tried not to beat the dough too much. I'm off to brown some butter now. I need to pick up some more limes and will try to bake again later this week. I don't completely understand the fat to sugar to flour thing. I do understand the cold dough, hot oven theory. It's one I subscribe to. That's how I bake my chocolate chip cookies so they don't spread -- actually from frozen balls of dough.

Thanks for all your input and even willingness to try them out for me.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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I should taste these before I comment because S.Y. is a fine chef.

The only thing that I wanted to mention is my personal preference. I would use lime oil instead of juice, probably cut back on the zest too. I think the lime oil would give you a better taste.

And ditto's on cooling your dough before baking and not over beating it.

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1/2 pound of butter, melted, browned then rechilled till solid.

3 Tablespoons lime zest

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups flour sifted

Am I the only one to think it unusual that there's no egg?

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Thank you JFLinLA for posting this Sherry Yard recipe exactly according to eG's guidelines--you kept the ingredients list intact and condensed the instructions and technique into your own words. If anyone is really piqued they can seek out the book and read the recipe which Martha Rose Shulman presumably tested and signed off on in its entirety. The key here, I think, is that this isn't a shortbread or shortcrust that many of us may be familiar with, it is what my grandmother called a Russian tea cake--I think the nut versions hold their shape better in general--and Sherry takes pains throughout her very in-depth explanation to stress not to overbeat, not to overbake, and even to freeze the dough to hold it. The lack of egg helps these things melt away or disintegrate fairly quickly which Sherry explains nicely. (I think the particular lime proportions are a little off fwiw.)

Too bad the author and publisher didn't care enough to also provide specific weights--nothing like the precision and efficiency of measuring out one and a half cups plus two tablespoons sugar!

JFLinLA--are you aware convection ovens bake differently than conventional ovens?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Am I the only one to think it unusual that there's no egg?

I have quite a few cookie recipes that have no eggs. Shortbreads are one example.

Professional pastry chefs might not agree, but heck I'm a home baker and I do what I have to do. :biggrin: At times, American recipes don't turn out quite well after conversion to weights, and I can't use the cups here coz our cup measurements are UK standard.

Anyways, what I do is if the dough is too soft and still won't hold shape even after baking from freezer, I add some cornflour to the dough just enough to make it hold its shape after baking from freezer. It usually works with only a little addition and cornstarch won't make it hard or too 'doughy' like if you add flour. After all cup measurements aren't that accurate anyways. Like I said, some pros would be aghast at my 'unprofessional' suggestion but it works for me. :wink::biggrin:

And for cookies, I always mix by hand upon adding the flour. It's too easy to overmix using a mixer.

Just my 2 cents.

Edited by kew (log)
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First of all, thanks to everyone for all their input. In response to specific questions/comments:

Sinclair -- They tasted great, it was really the way they looked that upset me. Not what I had hoped for or how they are pictured in the book. Of course, tasting great is subjective so, if you want a cookie/curd concoction that will make you pucker, this is it.

Steve -- Regarding convection ovens, yes. I've had mine for a year and a half and have become pretty adept at it with the recipes I use. Or at least I thought so until this one.

As for the next time, I think I only want to vary a few things at a time and see how it goes. So, I will definitely shape then freeze the dough before baking. I will probably do some of the mixing by hand. I may increase the oven temp 25 degrees. Will definitely check it against an oven thermometer.

If any of you try this, please let me know how you do.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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Steve is right that it is in "the Russian tea cookie family". In my hotel baking days

I made massive dough batches. Spago also makes large amounts at a time. I always used very cold butter on low speed. If the butter is too warm, or if you cream too much air into the dough- the cookies will spread (or puff up and fall).

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi JFLinLA and all. Well I finally got around to baking and here is the results. I have Sherry's book and have used several things out of it with success. I was not prepared for what was about to happen. I followed the original recipe adding the lime zest and juice. Was careful about creaming, mixing, chilling, and the oven temp. The cookies came out flat as little pancakes. They tasted great but were flat. Just like JFL said in her original entry. So its back to the drawing board.

In another section on Creaming butter and sugar Sherry suggests that in cookie recipes using powdered sugar the butter should be slightly soft. The original recipe does not state what temp the butter should be but intimates that it should be cold. So I make two more batches of the cookie recipe. In the first batch I used room temp butter (about 70 degrees) and in the second I used cold butter. I creamed both for a minimum of time in both cases under 2 minutes. I add the flour and mixed by hand. Into the refer for a 2 hour cooling. I then divided each batch into two parts and altered the chilling of the shaped unbaked cookies, the temp of the oven, the freezing of the dough before baking, convection vs regular baking, type of cookie sheet, use and non use of parchment and silicone mats and the time in the oven. Nothing worked. They all came out flat or semi flat (in the case of the frozen shaped cookies). So what is next. It would be nice if Sherry could give us some suggestions if she is out there. If anyone else has tried this recipe with success please report in.

Fred Rowe

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Thanks FWED for experimenting with this. At least I know I'm not crazy. Or maybe we are crazy together. Since your results were similar to mine in terms of the cookies spreading, I gotta think there is a problem with the recipe in the book.

Anybody else give these a go. I think we have a mystery on our hands.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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