Cooking Through Fiction: Lucinda's Secret — Sugar Cookies
Remember that moment when you judged someone too harshly and you realized that person had just experienced the worst day of his or her life, and you suddenly became a Class-A jerk for not “taking a walk in those shoes”? Or the time you complained that your waitress didn’t refill your tea glass often enough, and then she had a breakdown moment when she told you that her fiancé just left her? How about the afternoon when you cursed someone who was driving well below the speed limit, and when you raced passed that car a second later, you saw the driver was bawling her eyes out?
Unfortunately, I’ve experienced moments like these. And so do the Grace children.
Mallory, Simon, and Jared know they have an Aunt Lucinda who’s in the nuthouse. They call her crazy, assume she is, and never question the information given to them about her. Until they realize Aunt Lucinda’s old house, neighborhood, and probably the whole town are infested with faerie creatures. Then, they start to wonder if perhaps Aunt Lucinda knows more about this other world inside their own. Just maybe Aunt Lucinda has been locked up because she told the truth. They have questions, and they need answers.
What’s the best way to coax information out of someone? Why, with food, of course! The twins make sugar cookies to take to Aunt Lucinda. How are they supposed to know that Aunt Lucinda can’t eat human food anymore because of an experience with faerie food?
“‘You won’t try one?’ Mom asked, uncovering the sugar cookies and holding the platter out to Aunt Lucinda. ‘I’m afraid not,’ said the old woman. ‘I find that I am quite content.’” (Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, Lucinda’s Secret (The Spiderwick Chronicles #3) [New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003], 25)
Still, they learn Aunt Lucinda's secret and learn that they have judged her too harshly. If Aunt Lucinda is crazy, then so are they.
The Twins’ Sugar Cookies
Serving: 24-30 cookies, depending on size of cookie cutter
Difficulty Level: Easy
16 tbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ c sugar
3 egg yolks
1 piece vanilla bean, about 2" long, or 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
How to Make
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and, using a small, sharp knife, scrape the seeds into the butter mixture. If using vanilla extract, add it now. Mix well.
In a sifter, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the flour mixture directly onto the butter mixture. Reduce the speed to low and beat until well mixed.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball and flatten the balls into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (The dough can be prepared up to 3 days ahead.) Let it soften slightly at room temperature before continuing.
Grease 2 large cookie sheets or cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out a dough disk ¼" thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes. Transfer the cutouts to the prepared baking sheets. Gather up and reroll the scraps and cut out more cookies. Repeat with the remaining dough disks.
Bake until the cookies are golden on the edges, approximately 8 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely. Decorate the cookies as desired with colored sugars and decorating pens. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.