I have a confession to make. I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to cookbooks. I don't judge the book by the cover or even the content. I judge them by whether or not they have an extraneous amount of pictures. I need pictures. I eat with my eyes before I eat with my mouth. The best cookbook ever written may hold all the secrets to the baking universe, but if it doesn't have photographs chances are I'd never give it a second glance. If the cookbook doesn't double as a good old fashioned picture book, I'm just not interested.
I told you I was a bit of a snob.
Despite my prejudices, I took it upon myself to make a recipe from a cookbook without a photograph this week. I figured cookies were pretty self-explanatory, especially in terms of what I was aiming for. Easy, right?
The first batch came out of the oven looking exactly like they did going in—not exactly what I was going for. They tasted delicious, but looked terrible. Is this what they were supposed to look like? Without the cookbook's illustration, it very well may have been. I should have never strayed from my picture prejudice.
I changed up the method and the second batch came out looking marginally better. I fixed those mistakes with the third batch and finally achieved the cookie I think the cookbook wanted me to make. Nevertheless, a simple photograph could have prevented my lemon cookie nightmare. To prevent any nightmares for you, here are several photographs to show you the way of this elusive lemon cookie. If only I had these to begin with.
What is your favorite cookbook? Do you also need pictures or are you brave enough to go without?
These lemon thins are light and delicate. The cookies are flavored with both lemon zest and fresh lemon juice, yet the flavors remain subtle and do not overpower. This recipe yields small, yet tender cookies. These lemon thins are the perfect complement to a cup of tea (if adventurous, you could even dunk them).
Adapted from The Eating Well Dessert Cookbook
Yields 30 small cookies
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg white and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Fold in the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder.
Take a teaspoonful of dough and roll it into a ball with your hands. Place on a baking sheet and flatten with the bottom of a glass. Repeat. Sprinkle extra sugar on top, if desired. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the edges barely begin to brown. Do not overbake if the edges do not brown; the cookies will be done. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.