I eat a lot of things I'm really not supposed to.
I don't mean things that some people wouldn't consider edible, like beef tongue and lamb kidneys. I don't mean things that would make a cardiologist cringe, like croque-monsieurs or duckfat fries. I don't even mean politically incorrect things, like Sausage and Egg McMuffins from McDonald's.*
I mean things that come marked with little asterisks on menus - the ones that lead to the disclaimer "Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness."
My parents weren't too worried by these disclaimers. As a child, I ate runny-yolked eggs, sashimi, beef sashimi, slightly pink chicken, rare steak, and beef tartare - all before the age of twelve. (Yum.)
What I didn't eat was raw cookie dough.
You see, you don't eat raw cookie dough if you don't bake cookies. And you don't bake cookies - even when you finally have a kitchen in which to do so - if you don't like them very much.
Frankly, I never found a chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookie that could hold a candle to my much-adored Tim Tams, those delectable Australian chocolate-coated biscuits that are made for dunking in tea. Most cookies wouldn't even win out over the appeal of a simple McVitie's plain digestive biscuit, let alone a chocolate one.
And so I figured I would remain cookie-free and focus my energies on trying to convince my local supermarket that they did want to import Australian biscuits for the "international aisle." (They'd be right at home next to the Violet Crumble bars.)
It wasn't to last for long.
My plans were upset at one of Bella's summer barbecues, where I encountered creations she termed lemon drop cookies. Tempting and golden, they were tangy and sweet and soft and so addictive that I ate four of them, one right after the other.
Bella gladly gave me the recipe, and I made the cookies for Jake and Michelle's housewarming party. Of course, I couldn't resist tinkering just a little: more lemon juice and less sugar, and the resulting dough smelled so fragrant and looked so gloriously yellow that I ate several spoonfuls raw, right from the bowl.
It was delicious. Of course, the cookies themselves are pretty good too.
Lemon Drop Cookies
(Makes a little over three dozen cookies, even if you nick spoonfuls of raw dough.)
If you're good, you'll start by sifting two cups of all-purpose flour, one teaspoon of baking powder, and a half-teaspoon of salt together in a big bowl. If you're bad, you won't bother with the sifting and start with the wet ingredients first.
Get out a big mixing bowl and beat together one stick of softened unsalted butter, half a cup of sugar, and two eggs, until creamy and fluffy. Mix in the zest from two lemons and the juice from one lemon half. Add your sifted dry ingredients - or add the baking powder, salt, and flour, in that order, and stir until the mixture is smooth.
Chill the dough in the fridge for at least one hour. (You can write a letter to your local supermarket asking them to stock Tim Tams.)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two or three baking trays.
Drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto the trays. (The cookies don't spread much, so you can place them fairly close together.) Bake for ten to twelve minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Serve with tea or coffee.
*I know, I know. I read Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma and I really shouldn't, but nothing tastes better when you get off a flight at six am and you've barely slept and your brain still thinks it's on the other side of the world. I think it's all the trans fats.