Do you remember the “lipstick theory”?
It’s an idea that relies on lipstick sales as an economic barometer.
When times are tough, the theory goes that consumers will actualy indulge more in certain small luxuries, like lipstick, even as overall spending declines. Lipstick is seen as an affordable splurge, a more prudent pick-me-up than a designer bag or expensive pair of pumps.
I, for one, don’t think I’ve ever satisfied a shopping urge with lipstick.
It’s not that I never splurge. It’s just that I don’t do it with lipstick
I’m much more prone to the edible indulgence: a jar of jam I don’t really need, an obscure herb from the Asian market, a flamboyant tropical fruit.
I guess you could say that I feel about produce departments and baking aisles the way some people feel about makeup counters. And that’s how I recently came to possess a little sack of buckwheat flour for which I had no particular need.
I have always associated buckwheat primarily with pancakes and, more recently, as a gluten-free alternative to wheat. But I’m not avoiding gluten and neither are any of the people for whom I usually cook. Sadly, I’m also the only person in the household who likes pancakes.
So what to do with a hastily-acquired sack of buckwheat flour?
Buckwheat butter cookies.
But they are really, really good.
Imagine buttery, slice-and-bake cookies with an almost shortbread-like texture and, thanks to the buckwheat, an alluring flavor that is at once nutty and slightly grassy. I skipped the cacao nibs called for in the original recipe, but I can’t help thinking that a little ground cardamom might be a nice addition next time around.
Perched alongside a scoop of ice cream, they become a company-worthy dessert. Or snag a couple for an afternoon snack, paired with a mug of tea.
A perfect little luxury either way.
Adapted from Alice Medrich's "Pure Dessert."
Medrich's original recipe called for incorporating cacao nibs into the dough, which I decided to skip. If you want to try the cookies with the cacao nibs, stir 1/3 cup nibs into the dough when adding the vanilla. Or try adding a little ground cardamom instead, which is what I plan to do next time I make these.
Medrich says the cookies will keep for a month or so stored in an airtight container, but you have much better willpower than me if you think you can keep them around that long. The dough also freezes well, tightly wrapped.
- 1 1/4 cups (5.6 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (3 ounces) buckwheat flour
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Whisk the flours together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and salt together until it is soft and creamy, but not yet fluffy. This should take about 1 minute with an electric mixer.
Mix in the vanilla extract. Add the flours and mix just until incorporated. The dough will be very thick and on the sticky side.
Roll half the dough into a log about two inches in diameter and wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Refrigerate the dough for at least two hours, or overnight. Alternatively, pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, set the dough on the counter and allow it to warm up slightly. This could take an hour or so if the dough has been in the freezer or in the refrigerator overnight. It is ready to slice when it is still cold and firm but no longer rock hard.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.
Slice the cookies into rounds about 1/4" thick and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2" space between cookies.
Bake for 12-14 minutes or just until the edges of the cookies take on a golden color. You might want to rotate your pans halfway through to ensure even baking.
Cool cookies on wire racks and store in an airtight container for up to one month.