I had the sad experience of having to make a condolence call recently to a close friend whose father had just passed away.
In addition to making a contribution to the requested charity, I wanted to take something to the home as a way of helping feed the out-of-town family and guests.
While putting together a fruit tray and a cheese platter, I had a flashback to a time when my friend’s family and mine were all together celebrating the 16th birthday of his son. My friend’s father was snarfing down the cookies I’d made, and I remember him saying that in his opinion, they were better than a store-bought birthday cake because they were made with that extra ingredient – love.
I knew that when I brought the cookies and related that story to my friend, the gift I would give would be much more than a way to say, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’d be giving him a memory of a time when his dad was hale and hearty and full of love for his family.
While bringing food is an important way of showing you care, I’ve also found that when you don’t know what to say, sometimes just sharing your favorite memory of their loved one is the kind of gesture that means the most.
The following recipes are all appropriate to take on a condolence call and can be placed on a platter or left in a disposable pan (and frozen) until they are needed. The common ingredient is lemon. It’s a soothing flavor and one that most people don’t have an allergy to.
Pecan Lemon Cookies
2 cups ground pecans
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups sugar
2 cups sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Lemon icing (recipe below)
In a bowl, combine the ground pecans, eggs, lemon extract, sugar, flour and salt. Shape the dough into 2 rolls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap rolls in wax paper and chill for several hours.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut the rolls into slices about 1/8 -inch thick and place them on greased cookie sheets. Bake for about 8 minutes. Brush lemon cookies with lemon icing while still hot. Makes about 4 to 5 dozen.
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 cup lemon juice
Place the powdered sugar in a bowl. Add the grated lemon rind and lemon juice, and mix to combine.
Snow Capped Lemon Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1 (3 ounces) package cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup powdered sugar
In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and cream cheese together until light. Add sugar, lemon juice and zest and beat until combined. Add flour and baking powder and stir until mixed. Chill the dough for 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, then place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, just until lightly golden. Remove immediately and cool slightly.
Place the powdered sugar in a paper lunch bag. Place the still-warm cookies, a few at a time, in the bag and shake gently to coat them with the powdered sugar. Put them on a cooling rack until room temperature. You may need to shake on a little more powdered sugar to coat. Makes 32 to 36 cookies. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.
Sour Cream Lemon Cake
2 cups flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and set it aside.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, lemon zest and sugar and beat for 5 minutes until it’s light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the side of the bowl frequently. Add the flour mixture, alternating it with the sour cream (flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream). Make sure to scrape the sides of bowl to combine all the butter mixture.
Pour batter into the greased pan. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before trying to remove the cake from the pan.
While the cake is cooling, combine in a bowl the melted butter, lemon juice and powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth. Turn the cake out onto a serving platter, then poke the cake with a toothpick all over. Drizzle the glaze evenly over the top.