Vanilla Bean Lemon Straws. Or, Therapy Through Tea & Cookies.

Lemon Straws

Even though I take all those silly self portraits of me doing absolutely nothing and blog about trips to pretty places I am not much of the relaxing type of guy. I’m actually quite the opposite and find myself nervous or antsy when I’m sitting still. The thought of midday naps freak me out and stopping to sit down for tea or coffee in the afternoon is a luxury I rarely allow myself. Even if I had the time I’d still feel like I was missing something or that something terrible would happen because I wasn’t working working working working working.

Yea, I have issues. I know this.

But I’m trying to grow and slow down just a little bit.

When I got home the other day after I was greeted by Adam clanking away in the kitchen. He had the urge to bake and it’s an urge I completely encourage. Who doesn’t like fresh baked anything the second they walk in the door? But I had a chunk of editing to do and had to submit some images to the magazine I was working for that day before running to Fed Ex to send out a package.

“Taste this,” Adam said.

“I will, but I’ve got to send some jpgs out right now and get a disk out and — ” I blurted out.

“Stop. Just stop for a moment and taste this.”

I guess I needed someone to slap me back into reality.

I took a seat and joined a small tray of cookies that appeared to be waiting for someone to eat. They were beautiful little cookies in the shape of ridged fingers with a faint glaze that was only visible when the light hit the surface at a certain angle. Next to this tray of cookies was a cup of tea, both waiting to be claimed.

I took a bite of this little crunchy fella, then a sip of tea, and then another bite. I picked up another cookie, savoring its vanillaness before moving on to a third and forth. The tea was delightful but I soon realized that for a brief moment in time I was doing nothing but enjoying a cookie and a glass of tea. In the middle of the day, no less. I felt like Divine in “Hairspray” when she said “Broad daylight and I’m sittin’ in front of a TV!” but with just a little less makeup.

I’m happy to say that unlike the cookie my day did not crumble and fall apart from taking a moment to do nothing. My images made it to the photo editor in plenty of time and next time I might just take another tea and cookie break. Why not?

Vanilla Bean Lemon Straws

Martha’s Vanilla Malted Cookies were the starting point for Adam’s cookies. He created them as a companion to a drink he was working on but graciously let me blog and photograph them. You see, if he hadn’t I would have just done the thing I always do when I want to annoy people: I begin talking. And then I talk and talk about stuff and keep going until the person gives in. I’m the most annoying person like that and legend has it that my mom used to bribe family members into taking me somewhere, anywhere, because at age 3 I was already speaking like an adult and would not shut up. I guess I had something to say. Good thing I started a blog.

3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup of sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz  cream cheese, room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk

1 cup powered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 vanilla bean split and scraped
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven at 350˚ F.

With a pencil and a ruler mark out the placement of the cookies on your parchment paper. Each cookie should be about 2 inches and place 2 inches apart. Remember to turn parchment paper over with pencil markings face down before you pipe your cookies.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a stand mixer cream butter and cream cheese together on medium, add sugar and  vanilla seeds and continue mixing till fluffy.  With mixer on low add the egg,vanilla extract and milk until combined. Remain on low speed and add the flour mixture, mix well until incorporated. This is a stiff cookie dough.

Use a heavy duty pastry bag and fit it with a 1/2-inch star tip. Fill the bag about 1/4 full, it will give you better control of the dough. Pipe the cookies onto parchment lined cookie sheets following the tracing for equally spaced cookie. Continue to fill the bag and pipe cookies.

Bake in a preheated oven 15-18 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown. You will see this on the edges first.  Remember to rotate cookie sheets halfway through. Move to wire cooling racks and cool on cookie sheets till completely cool.

For Glaze: Combine all ingredients, stirring well, glaze should be quite thin. Dunk each cookie in glaze top side down and place on cooling rack to dry.

Store covered at room temperature for about a week.


  1. says

    what a lovely, lovely story. and what a sweet boy that adam is. bravo!
    i am totally going to make these. today. and maybe even sit down to enjoy them, too.

  2. says

    Matt – I know you know this already, but I just have to remind you again that you’re the luckiest person in the world :) Love to Adam too. kxxx

  3. says

    Ah…sweet debacle. The collision of work driven need and personal survival is not always fair or equal. This visual and textual treat looks like you’re ‘in the zone’ to balance each as necessary.

  4. says

    This is lovely — and so true. Hard sometimes to slow down and have that bit of tea and cookies but it’s so necessary. Your photos are absolutely dreamy, also.

  5. says

    Three cheers for Adam! Holla atcha, Adam! But I get it, Matt. Ah but for the virtues of endless multi-tasking! Sometimes it’s good to just say “Pishaw! Enough!” (Though it’s SO hard!) This is the perfect image to ease ourselves into a weekend. :)

    And, y’know, you seem to be getting pretty good at this photography thing. You should think about doing it professionally. 😉

    Melissa, Manuel, & I are planning to get together for a lil’ dinner soon. We’ll be thinking about you, Mister! I may even make a toast, or several, in your honor. At least until I pass out. So Melissa, if you’re reading, consider yourself warned!
    Wish you could join us. :)

  6. says

    You guys are too cute. :) What a sweet story.

    I used to work at a (small) hospital that had a daily cookie break for employees. At 3 PM, the cafeteria would set out trays of Snackwells and other cookies, plus tea and coffee. No one went every single day (that I’m aware of), but it was such a great benefit. Sometimes groups would hold lab meetings, others would sit back and shoot the breeze, still others would wolf down cookies because they had missed lunch and then race back to work. I miss cookie time.

  7. says

    What a nice thing to have for an afternoon break. The cookies look so good and I bet they smelled great when you walked into the house!

  8. says

    I love Adam for making you pause. Take time to enjoy Matt, as you already realise – things will still get on and in time and on time. Hugs to you both.

  9. says

    Sorry, been a couple of weeks since I have visited. Your site is absolutely KILLER! Keep up the beautiful posts, it is a highlight to visit your site.

  10. says

    You know, us Brits do have something going with this whole afternoon tea and buscuits thing.

    Mate, amazing photo. Just beautiful. So simple, so clean, so perfectly balanced. Great light, composition, everything. you make it look effortless, even though it isn’t.

    And, holy crap. Those biscuits!!! Just how darling are those or what. Great shape, perfect for dunking in tea!! You are a lucky bloke mate, Adam makes you biscuits! lets be honest though, you are both lucky. Great team.

  11. says

    Aawwe, so cute. A nice afternoon tea sitting with your lover and admiring the beauty of it all….is exactly the way things should be!

    Your image is rather splendid too. Even though this has nothing to do with the quality or marvel of the image, but which camera do you use? I’m intrigued to find out if you’re a Nikon user or a Canon user.

    On the whole, you got your things done on time AND managed to have your cookie and eat it.

  12. Nsy says

    They look amazing! Would love to make these but what’s the amount of sugar for the cookies? I believe you’ve left it out.

  13. says

    Oh my melting piece of chocolate, what a wonderful looking cookies! I’ve been craving for them since childhood. I love the photo, probably that’s the part of taste, too :) Half full glass cups with black tea, daylight and white, clean and cozy napkins gives me a calm and joyful mood, good job, really.

  14. says

    What can be sweeter than having someone care enough to make you take a pause in the chaos of everyday life for a hot cuppa and some cookies that look like that?? Awesome! :-)


  1. […] … making ice cream, and yes, McCormick vanilla beans in the supermarket are $12 for two! …Vanilla Bean Lemon Straws. Or, Therapy Through Tea & Cookies …Vanilla Bean Lemon Straws. Or, Therapy Through Tea & Cookies. by Matt on January 30, 2009. Even […]

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