Late Sunday afternoon, I was relaxing. It had been a busy week, which I love, but I was tired. A half dozen events at Cooking by the Book had left me in need of restoration. I was on my porch, feet up on the table, spicy Bloody Mary in my hand. The sun was settling over the mountain to the west. There was cool breeze and the stream rushed with the runoff from the previous day’s rain. It was perfect. What could go wrong.
He approached me with a simple, “Hey, Suz,” but I knew. He was holding a cookbook, he had that “Please, Mommy” tone in his voice, and his eyes were suspiciously lowered.
“Could you make these for us? It’s very simple.” He began. “For us” really means “for me.”
“Why don’t you make them yourself?” I replied. I did not even know what recipe he was talking about.
“I would, Honey, but it would violate the rules. It needs a food processor.”
Bastard. Using my own rules against me.
And the ugly thing is the rules are to protect him. Brian has a problem, a long standing problem, with sharp things. Decades ago he tried to accelerate emptying a waterbed with a knife on what is infamously remembered as a dark and stormy night.
There have been several close calls with his chain saw, and, yes, I know about the ones he’s never mentioned. I have a confidential relationship with the saw repair shop down the hill.
There have been ghastly incidents where “I know the blender top was on, Suzen” yet it was not and a wall, some windows, and the large countertop have been hosed in liquids of various stickiness. Try pure lemon juice and sugar.
Finally, just last month, he was using a chef’s knife in the kitchen when I heard it clang on the floor.
“Are you alright?” I asked with concern.
“I’m fine,” he said.
“Let me finish. Go watch the game.” Better to be safe.
Ten minutes later came his voice. “Suz, you need to come.”
I know the tone. I grabbed paper towel. Before the knife had hit the floor it had stopped on the way down cutting his leg and ankle. The leg, the ankle, and now the floor look like a scene from Quentin Tarentino. I swear to God, my next husband will not be a bleeder.
Now on the porch, I had no option. “Show me,” I said.
I looked at the start of the recipe. A few ingredients, a few instructions. I turned the page for the rest and …
There was no next page. The recipe was simple. Could, could it be that my clumsy devious husband had told me the truth?
He had. And these cookies, created originally by Lydie Marshall’s mother-in-law are just so wonderful you have to try them. Simple? Yes. No eggs. No spices. Really just butter and brown sugar, plus flour and salt and baking powder. And they are whipped up in the food processor in seconds.
I have modified the recipe a bit. These cookies, although chilled, will spread out as they bake. Although Lydie’s recipe calls for cutting them 1/8 inch thick, I think ¼ is the best you can do.
The flavor all comes from the butter and the sugar. So, use great butter. And fresh dark brown sugar, not that rock hard stuff sitting in you canister.
I am glad that Brian brought this recipe to my attention. I will not relent on forbidding him to use the food processor. I have no intention of bearing the humiliation in reading an obituary that begins: “Foodie decapitated in bizarre food processor accident.”
If anybody could do it, it would be him.
Brown Sugar Ice Box Cookies from Lydie Marshall
Yield: around 50 cookies
- 8 tablespoons [½ cup] unsalted butter
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon water
- Pinch of salt
- Butter for cookie sheets
Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process for 30 seconds or until smooth. The ingredients will begin to ball up, but there may be some stragglers to deal with by hand.
Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough into a cylinder about a 12” long and 1 ½ “ in diameter.
Wrap the dough in waxed paper and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two half sheet or one full sheet pan. Or use parchment paper.
Cut the batter into slices a bit under ¼ inch thick and place on the cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Do not overcook. If you lightly press on one and you finger mark make a strong indent, keep baking. If the indent is minor, or if the edges are beginning to brown, pull the cookies.
Cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container. On a humid day, cookies left out will begin to soften.
Optionally, you can freeze the dough and defrost just enough for the fresh cookies you want for that day. Allow the dough to defrost until no longer “hard” to prevent crumbling as you cut.
Source: Adapted from Soup of the Day by Lydie Marshall