2004_08_food_serendipity.jpgSweet Serendipity: Delicious Desserts and Devilish Dish by Stephen Bruce with Brett Bara, Universe Publishing, 2004

Chocolate-tastic! Chocolate practically drips of the page in "Sweet Serendipity," a new dessert cookbook in which Serendipity 3's owner, Stephen Bruce, who founded the uptown shrine to sweets with two partners in 1954, reveals the secrets behind the restaurant's famous desserts. The cookbook commemorates the restaurant's 50th anniversary and the book's introduction details the restaurant's long history as sugar-peddler to the stars. It quickly becomes apparent that serving up sweet treats isn't Stephen Bruce's only specialty--he also loves celebrity gossip and dishes it out throughout the book.

We could feel the cavities forming as we looked at the pictures, so we handed our friends the book and let them choose what they wanted me to make. To our utter surprise, they passed over the Dark Devil Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Chip Pizza, Miss Milton's Lovely Fudge Pie (Marilyn Monroe's favorite), and the Pineapple Lei Cake in favor of the Lemon Rain Drops, refreshing-looking lemon cookies. And oh, were they light and tasty. The volunteer tasters described the cookies as "lemon meringue pie in the form of a cookie-it's portable!" and "a good summer cookie". As the baker, the best thing about this recipe was that all we had to do was buy the lemons-- we had everything else on hand. And, they were great, even though generally, a cookie without chocolate is a little "not-quite-dessert-like" (and possibly a violation of family tradition). A good variation of this recipe would be as a key lime cookie recipe, using that key lime juice that people bring back from Florida vacations, maybe with the zest of only 1 lime.

Ingredients
Unsalted butter (for the pans)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
2 medium lemons
Cold water
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg

Instructions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter 2 cookie sheets. We don't have nonstick cookie sheets, so if you do it might not be necessary, but be aware that these are very sticky cookies.

Get out the mixer if you have one. If not, prepare for a workout.

Sift together (or shake through a fine-mesh strainer) the flour, baking powder, and salt. Zest the 2 lemons into a large mixing bowl, then juice them into a measuring cup. Add enough cold water to the juice to make almost ½ cup, if necessary, and set aside.

Add the butter & sugar to the zest in the mixing bowl, and cream until fully blended. Add the egg and lemon juice and beat well. Add the dry ingredients and mix only until they are fully incorporated.

2004_08_food_cookietastic2.jpgDrop the batter by level tablespoons 2 inches apart (or use a #60 or 70 scoop). In a hot kitchen it is hard to keep the batter the correct consistency. We put ours in the fridge for a little bit between batches going in the oven and it was easier to manipulate.

Bake for 10 minutes, until cookies are slightly firm but not browned (make sure they are pretty firm -- ours came out too sticky). Cool on a rack, but don't stack or store them until they have cooled. When cool, store in an airtight container at room temperature. These go great with frozen pina coladas.

-- girlynyc