Zesty Margarita cookies

Lemon sugar cookies with zesty lime salt
Makes about 30 cookies

I love the idea of a margarita. Thanks to an unfortunate experience with tequila one night during college, however, I don't drink them.

Believe me, I've tried, because the lemony, limey drink with the glass rimmed in salt always looks so good, especially in summer. Ah, well. Here's a cookie that features what I imagine to be the best elements of the cocktail I must avoid, yet still crave.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Zest of 1 lime
Preparation:
  1. Combine the flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium-size bowl and mix well.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 minute, then add 3/4 cup sugar and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.

  3. Add the egg yolk, lemon juice, and lemon zest and beat for 2 more minutes. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the dough comes together.

  4. Combine the lime zest, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon sea salt in a shallow dish or on a plate (for rolling).

  5. Roll the dough into logs 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, then roll the logs in the lime zest mixture. Wrap the logs in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  6. Preheat the oven to 350F.

  7. Slice the chilled logs into 1/4-inch-thick circles and bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until just lightly browned on the bottom. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
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Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
Makes about 12 cupcakes

It's hard to go wrong with the peanut butter and chocolate combination. I know. I've tried just about all of them. One night, in desperation, I even stirred up a glob of creamy peanut butter with a little cocoa powder and ate it with a spoon.

It did the trick! But I'll definitely take these cupcakes, with a peanut buttery cake and creamy chocolate frosting, over that concoction.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (regular, not natural)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)
  • Fleur de sel or chopped salted peanuts, for sprinkling (optional)
Preparation:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin tin cups with cupcake liners.

  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium-size bowl. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium speed until light-colored and creamy, about 1 minute.

  3. Beat in the egg for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix in the vanilla and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.

  4. Add the flour mixture in 3 increments, alternating with the milk (which you'll add in 2 increments), beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating after each addition. Mix until just combined.

  5. Fill each cupcake liner three-quarters full with batter. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops of the cupcakes are golden and firm and a cake tester comes out clean.

  6. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. When cool, frost each cupcake with chocolate frosting.

  7. Sprinkle lightly with either fleur de sel or chopped salted peanuts, if desired. The frosted cupcakes will keep, covered, at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
Chocolate Frosting
Makes about 1 cup (enough to frost about 12 cupcakes)

Ingredients:
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Preparation:
  1. Put the chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl and set aside. Combine the cream, butter, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until very hot but not boiling, about 4 minutes.

  2. Quickly pour the hot cream mixture over the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 5 to 7 minutes to melt the chocolate, and then whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
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About Salty Sweets:

Although such salty-sweet classics as chocolate-covered pretzels, peanut brittle, and kettle corn have long been American favorites, the fab flavor duo has recently surged in popularity.

In 2008, Bon Appétit magazine recognized peanut butter desserts as the biggest dessert trend of the year, and The New York Times declared salted caramel the year's hot flavor.

Matheson has discovered her own love for salty-sweets and responded to it with the first book ever devoted to this addictive flavor combination.

As the 75 recipes in Salty Sweets prove, a sprinkling of salt intensifies the sweet taste of many favorite desserts. Matheson gives readers all the knowledge they need to create these easy and impressive treats at home.

She offers seven chapters of tempting recipes for candies, cookies and bars, cakes, puddings, fruits, ice cream, and dessert sauces, and in a thorough introduction, she explains the unique qualities of different salt varieties.

Gorgeous color photos throughout show that salty sweets look as luscious as they taste!

About Christie Matheson:

Christie Matheson is the author of Green Chic: Saving the Earth in Style and the coauthor of Wine Mondays, The Confetti Cakes Cookbook, Confetti Cakes for Kids, Tea Party, and Vineyard Harvest.

She is a regular contributor to publications including The Boston Globe Magazine, Cooking Light, Boston, Yankee, Body + Soul, Yoga Journal, Continental, San Francisco, and DailyCandy.com.

For two years she hosted a weekly television segment called "Trend Tracker" on the UPN Morning Show, and she is a frequent guest on the television show Chronicle as well as on Martha Stewart Radio. Matheson lives in San Francisco, California, and Boston, Massachusetts.

>> Click here to buy Christie Matheson's books on Amazon

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