Several months ago, March to be exact, I accompanied a friend to an Author Event at a local historic theater. The author was Alexander McCall Smith. I had heard of him before; many of my friends said how much they enjoyed his stories, but I, alas, had never read any of his books.
That changed after hearing him speak. What a delightful and generous person he was! And, I can't imagine how many different types of stories are swirling around in his mind. Along with the obvious series (lady detective in Botswana), I set out to explore some of his lesser advertised novels. In this particular case, that would be Corduroy Mansions, a description of the lives of an eccentric group of Londoners and one precocious dog.
I've been aware of the Novel Food event for years, but I'm not usually prepared to participate. I read books for a living, non-fiction books, so finding time for any pleasure reading (other than cookbooks), is a challenge. However, inspired by the March event, I decided to make time for pure escapism.
So, the latest Novel Food event and my reading of Corduroy Mansions coincided at the perfect time.
Two of the novel characters, Caroline and James, spend an afternoon making cookies. Not just any cookie, though, but Lemon Gems from Nigella Lawson's cookbook, How to Be a Domestic Goddess, which just happens to be on my bookshelf. And, sure enough, there was the recipe.
Lemon Gems are divine. I have to share, or I will eat them all, probably with dire consequences. If you have or can acquire a copy of Lawson's book, I highly recommend giving them a try.
(adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess)
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
scant 1/4 cup almond flour (or almond meal)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Lemon curd, either 1 jar or homemade
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar; add egg yolk, lemon juice and zest, and salt. Gently fold in the flour in two additions, followed by the almond flour and cornstarch. Chill the dough for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Form the dough into 1" balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 1" apart. Make an indentation in each ball, using your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and firm.
Remove from oven and immediately fill each cookie with a scant 1/2 teaspoon of lemon curd. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Makes about 40 cookies.