After visiting my friends, as a last-minute necessity, I ended up meeting my parents at their cabin in Wisconsin late Tuesday night before heading home the next morning. This, conveniently, gave me just enough time to remember all the things I love about their cabin, which I probably won’t be able to see again for a while. It’s the perfect fall getaway, set right on the water and surrounded by pines and birch trees and colorful maples. There are paths winding to the lake, where a small pier with benches is the perfect place to drink in cold air and complete quiet.
I slept with the blinds open, so I wouldn’t miss a moment of the scenery when I woke up and so golden-tinted leaves would be the first thing to greet me in the morning. There’s a porch swing right outside the window, and I’ve decided, just for the record, that I could be perfectly happy to sit out there and do nothing but rock back and forth all day long.
It’s the kind of place that makes you forget all about the rest of the world, that lets you feel like you’re escaping, and, to be honest, the lack of cell phone signal or Internet access or cable is probably the best part. There’s something very valuable about remembering life goes on without you and that you don’t have to be always connected.
It’s also the place where, say, you might like to make some hot chili or apple cider or fresh, crusty bread. (You knew I was getting around to food, didn’t you?) Or, if you’re me, the kind of place that makes you think of, what else, cookies. Over the past few days, I did no cooking, not even baked. In fact, I ate a lot of things on the quick or, better, that were made for me. So I’ll just admit that I didn’t make any cookies in Wisconsin, certainly not the ones I’m going to share here. I actually had baked them the week before at home (and they were gone the next day). But I wanted to tell you about the cabin and I wanted to tell you about the cookies, and they both make me happy like a fall day, so here we are.
There are a few things I should tell you about this recipe. First of all, the original called for crushed pistachios, and I substituted crushed walnuts instead. Second, these are unusual in the way they’re created: they aren’t chill and slice, and they aren’t the kind you drop from a spoon. Essentially, you roll them out like you would with the dough for sugar cookies, but instead of cutting out shapes, you use a pizza cutter to slice squares of floured dough. If you find the whole thing a little messy, don’t worry: the cookies will taste delicious, no matter what look like.
They’re lightly sweet and perfectly crunchy, hinting at the flavors of the Middle East with their cardamom and coconut. All-around delicious and a very enjoyable snack. Of course, as with any cookies though, they’re addictive. I just thought I should warn you.
Slightly Adapted from MarthaStewart.com
Stir together 1 teaspoon sugar, the walnuts and coconut in a small bowl.
Put butter and remaining sugar into the bowl on an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until combined. Add egg yolk and vanilla; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, cardamom and salt; mix until smooth. Wrap dough in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer dough to a nonstick baking mat (such as Silpat), or parchment paper. With a floured rolling pin, roll out a 12-by-8-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Use a pizza wheel to create straight sides, discarding scraps. Carefully transfer mat or paper to a baking sheet. Cut into 24 2-inch squares. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with walnut mixture.
Bake until firm and edges are pale golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and run pizza wheel over original cuts. Gently break into individual crackers. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.