The making of these cookies was inspired by a lecture on Kierkegaard and irony I attended with friend T.T. at UC Berkeley earlier this year.
First, there was the lecture, held in the department’s Howison Library on campus. Wood paneling, wood and leather chairs, long tables, leather-bound volumes and portraits of ancient academics set the endearingly shabby scene for Johnathan Lear’s presentation on “Irony and Identity”. Shall I recapitulate the arguments? No! I confess my attention drifted from the speaker to the dress of the attendees (nondescript) to the printed signage instructing patrons on how to use the photocopy machine, and back again. Did I enjoy it, even understand what was being discussed? Yes! Ducks were actually employed in part of Lear’s argument, which pleased me very much.
To the point: at the end of the lecture, the facilitator invited us into an adjacent lounge for “coffee and cookies”. How delightful! And indeed, cookies there were – six or seven different varieties whisked in from some fantasy bakery of deliciousness. I kid you not, the cookies were all very good. Lemon sandwich cookies, dressy chocolate chip, some sort of intense fudgelike concoction, and square-shaped mint-flecked sugar cookies. All so very tasty.
After our cookies and coffee, we returned to the library for questions and discussion. Many professorial types (they probably were professors, but I really can’t say) and earnest students worked things out. Then the facilitator invited us back into said adjacent lounge for “wine and cheese”. Their events budget must have been recession-proof!
I’d wanted to re-make those mint cookies for T.’s going-away party last night, and I did make an attempt — but it was, alas, a fiasco. Never use “Self-Rising Flour” ever, even if it is the only flour available in a kitchen that is not yours which the owners have kindly allowed you to use for cooking experiments — I can’t imagine anything good will come of it. The cookies tasted like they’d taken an aluminum bath. In their stead I brought crème brûlées picked up from SF’s own secret crème brûlée cart guy, who happened to be having a last-ditch crème brûlée event prior to leaving town for several weeks. Vanilla bean, White Russian, Bailey’s, chocolate raspberry truffle — Tommy got one of each.
Today I made those mint cookies again, and they’re much better. Not quite as I remembered, so they may have to remain a personal Madeleine until I stumble across that bakery. T., here’s to you.
2 cups white all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped very fine
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. brandy
1 Tbsp. plain yogurt, buttermilk, or milk
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the flour mixture and mint and cut together, as you would a pie crust. Combine the egg and remaining liquids in a bowl, and pour into a trough in the dough mixture. Mix this in to the best of your abilities and form into a log; the dough will be crumbly. (I did my best to get the log looking rectangular, but this was not easy.) Wrap and freeze for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°. Remove dough from freezer and slice into cookie-sized medallions, no more than 1/4″ thick. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until just golden around the edges. Remove from the sheet and let cool.
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies