Baking has never been my forte. Precise measurements and a laundry list of ingredients are typically what steer me away from creating the baked goods that I oh so love. I’m just not a formulaic kind of cook, and I’m okay with that. I toss some of this here, a pinch of this there, and voila! I suppose my nonchalant approach to cooking originated in my mother’s kitchen.
“Mmm, mom this is good! What’s the recipe?”
“I don’t write down recipes. Come watch,” she’d reply as she taste tested her latest stew. “More fish sauce.”
Whereas my mother calls on fish sauce, luck is my secret ingredient. Once I forgot to add vegetable oil to a black bean brownie mix, but they turned out to be some of the most succulent treats I’d ever made.
Tis the season for cookie parties and other treats, so I began to hunt for a simple, yet stunning, confection. One day I stumbled upon the daintiest cookies I’d seen in a while: thumbprint cookies bejeweled in jam and dressed in toasted coconut flakes. I hesitantly scrolled down for the recipe, expecting a laundry list of items foreign to my kitchen. Luckily coconut was the only item needed on my grocery list. The instructions were quite minimal: mix here, mix there, combine into small mounds, roll in coconut and then drop the jam.
Known to reach for thumbprint cookies and their jeweled jam centers, I’ve often left unsatisfied, finding the base to be an afterthought yearning for its moment in the spotlight. There’s hardly a time when I can leave a component of a dish bare, and this cookie-currence was no different. I applaud the coconut component that the author added, but a citrus twist needed to occur. Perhaps I’m missing summer now that I’ve bid adieu to fall. After swapping the vanilla extract out for lemon, the citrus left an impression that didn’t overpower its simplicity. A lemon kick is exactly what this cookie needed.
I finished my cookies with a strawberry-fig jam leftover from summer that was purchased from Stoney’s Produce, a local market in Virginia Beach. I loved that this recipe was so forgiving that I felt right at home with my mother’s blasé cooking style.
What came out of my oven was a flawless arrangement between the toasted coconut and the soft crumble of the lemon confection. The cookies expressed a balance that was subtly sweet, though not shy to astound. I believe I’ve found an inkling of a baker in me. Perhaps I needed to shelve the luck and bring on the lemon. Either way these delightful treats are a perfect start for the novice baker. Holiday party or not, these cookies are sure to leave a trace of summer behind.
Click here to view the recipe.