Thursday, May 13, 2010

Finals have you frazzled? There's a cookie for that!

We're in the thick of it now, folks! FINALS TIME! There is just WAY too much to do, and far too little time to do it. As of this writing, I have completed four of six finals, and by some miracle, have actually computed grades for two of the classes that have finished. I have faith that, eventually, it will all end, but the amount of grading that I still have to do is oppressive, to say the least. Plus, there are all of the end-of-the-semester and end-of-the-year tasks and events to participate in and contribute to...AND all of the last-minute meetings (faculty, committee, and student) that everyone is trying to squeeze in before we all scattered to the four corners of the earth. In short, it's GO-GO-GO without a moment to take a breath...or a nap!

I was chatting with my officemate today, who has it worse than I do as department chair AND caretaker of two young daughters, a husband who works around-the-clock, and also her elderly mother. She confessed to me that she woke up at 2am last night/this morning, and decided to just stay up and grade a big stack of term projects, as it was the only uninterrupted time that she could find to do it! Poor thing! In a similar vein, I have been trying to find time to de-stress a bit by making a simple cookie recipe that I ran across recently, and I ended up starting the project after midnight on a school night during finals, because I am a crazy, nocturnal baker, and that's how I roll. Actually, it's a drop cookie with no rolling required--perfect for hectic days like these. Thus, I give you the third installment in my Springtime Lemon Series, a tender and tangy sweet treat that may be just the incentive you need to help you complete any end-of-the-school-year obligations that you might have before summer finally arrives.

Buttermilk-Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
(Source: adapted from
My Kitchen Cafe')
*Makes about 2 1/2 - 3 dozen cookies (I got 28 cookies with a cookie scoop)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon poppy seeds (I doubled this=2 T)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I doubled this, too=1 t)
zest of one lemon (plus I added 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and poppy seeds. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and buttermilk. Mix well.

Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto a greased or lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are set. The cookies should be puffy and fairly light in color when they are finished baking. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet. Move the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

After tasting the cookies the next morning, they had developed a great lemon flavor, but they still needed something. So I whisked together a quick buttermilk glaze consisting of one cup of powdered sugar, one tablespoon of softened butter, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and enough buttermilk to get it to the right consistency (a scant tablespoon?). I then warmed the glaze on defrost in the microwave for 15 seconds or so to make it very smooth, then I dipped the top of each cookie, let the excess run off, and then set them on a rack to drip and dry. Not only did the glaze add some needed sweetness, but it made the rather plain-Jane cookies look prettier, and it helps keep them soft and tender.

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