I carry you with me into the world, into the smell of rain and the words that dance between people, and for me, it will always be this way, walking in the light, remembering being alive together. -Brian Andreas
This weekend I drove to my grandpa’s house. Located in a cul-de-sac just a few blocks from my childhood home, I pulled up to the yellow house with my youngest daughter in the backseat to help sort through the collection of my grandparents’ lives.
We made our way, room by room, sifting through piles of mail, emptying cupboards filled with pots and pans my grandpa hadn’t touched since my grandma had passed away, pulling out treasures from decades past. My instinct was to package it all up in my car, drive away with the memories firmly tucked into the backseat next to the next generation of their line. I wanted to grab the giant family portrait from 1982 with its ornate carved frame—me the sole grandchild on my mother’s lap, my grandmother next to us, dark hair pulled into an always-present chignon at the nape of her neck.
Instead I watched as my grandma’s bright blue robe was rolled and placed in the Goodwill bag. I sorted through her handbag—still tucked in the front closet untouched for years—tossing her lipstick and a pile of clean, folded tissues, the plastic babushka she kept there for when it rained.
As I allowed memories of my childhood to be boxed or discarded, I tucked away a small number to hang on to. I pinned a brooch of a colorful snail to my daughter’s t-shirt and fastened my grandma’s gold watch around her small wrist. In our car I had her carry two small stone elephants that I played with as a child on the carpet in front of the curio cabinet where they were stored. She promptly dropped one on our cement steps, its white stone trunk splitting off.
My heart heavy, I thought of my grandpa, going through the motions each day in a home his wife had maintained and managed, careful not to disturb her things even after so many years of living alone. We had pulled pictures off the wall, a footstool, a mirror to bring to his new home where I know he carries my grandmother in his heart, even though he’s no longer surrounded by the house she made home.
The broken elephant sits on a shelf above my cookbooks, waiting for its epoxy appointment. A broken reminder of what was. My grandparents, however, live in the memories. Her, house coat on, stirring eggs in the early morning light. The way she’d brush out her hair at the end of the day, and how I always registered surprise at its length, which was never displayed. My grandpa sitting next to me at the kitchen counter as my legs swing, eggs and toast and orange juice, his voice always too loud and my grandma telling him to be quiet, her accent stronger in scolding.
Her essence is wrapped up in every tin of cookies I’ve ever made, waiting for someone to pull off the lid and see what’s stored inside. His is in the way I stack my mail and organize my children’s artwork that I should really throw away. It’s something I carry with me, but it cannot be grasped between my fingers or passed down as an heirloom.
I made these lavender and lemon sablés last Wednesday as I prepared to bring salad and sandwiches to our Lenten soup supper, my kids climbing up to the counter to get a look and bouncing up and down as they waited for a taste. I had an image of the decorated Easter egg-like glaze I just couldn’t shake. While sablé cookies traditionally have their rims coated in sanding sugar, I went ahead with my plan. The lemon in the glaze is bright and vibrant, the cookie rich and buttery with a delicate crumb.
When they were finished, I handed one out to each child, then packaged the rest up and carried them off to where others could enjoy them, sharing a bit of me and my heritage in the process.
These lovelies are a modified version of Dorie Greenspan’s sablé recipe. A slightly different technique and baking method and, of course, the lavender and lemon, oh, plus glaze.
Lavender Lemon Sablé Cookies
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened (European-style butter is preferred)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup confectioners' sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 lemons, zested
- ¼ teaspoon dried lavender
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 cups flour
- For the glaze
- 1¼ cups confectioners' sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from the zested lemons)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon dried lavender
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add in the granulated sugar, confectioner's sugar, salt, lemon zest, and the lavender and beat until smooth.
- Add in the egg yolks and beat until well blended. Then add all the flour at once. Mix until the flour has been incorporated being careful not to overmix. The dough should look crumbly like wet sand.
- Scrape the dough into a ball in the bowl you mixed it in. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to ¼" thick.
- Using a 2" cookie or biscuit cutter, cut 2" rounds from the dough. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet 1" apart. Once the sheet is filled with cookie dough, slide it into the freezer for 10 minutes. Repeat with all cookie dough and sheets.
- Remove the sheet from the freezer and place it immediately into the oven. Bake for 15-18 minutes, just until centers are set, but edges are not browning. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet.
- When the cookies are still warm but not hot, mix together the glaze. Sift the confectioners' sugar to remove lumps, and then stir in the lemon juice until desired consistency is reached. The glaze should be thick, but not stiff. Stir in the lemon zest and lavender.
- Using a small spoon, apply a small teaspoon-sized bit of glaze to the center of each cookie. Use the back of the spoon to spread it across the cookie's surface. Allow the glaze to set completely before serving or packaging. Makes approximately 48 cookies.