There are so many ways a heart can break. And I don't think it's a coincidence that this epicenter of the body is also where emotions are visualized to be held. It would make sense that our most important muscle performs life support for our physical bodies as well as our souls. And no one can deny that both kinds of heart break cause physical pain.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Two of the strongest women I know recently had their hearts broken. My grandmother underwent open heart surgery last week. At 80 years old, she promised me that she'd get through it because she wasn't going to miss my wedding. As proof, she explained how she'd already bought her dress, price tags still intact, and how it would be a true crime to waste it.
And one of my best friends suffered the metaphorical kind of heart break, the kind with which everyone is familiar. The world is so full of clichés regarding this particular kind of loss, that none seem to retain their original poetry. And a person can be told over and over again that these kinds of feelings, the ache in the chest, the loss of appetite, can, in the end, be beautiful. Can remind us of how much we need one another, even if our encounters turn out to be fleeting.
Thankfully, both women will get through their heart break. And, as they say, ultimately only time provides the antidote. But while waiting for months or years to pass, it happens that there are little pleasure which help to take the sting away. I like to think that any combination of butter, flour and sugar would qualify as one such pleasure. So I made this delicate little shortbread, redolent with the flavors of summer. Easy to eat, it melts away on the tongue, leaving lime and coconut behind. While I don't presume to say that sweets melt away all heart ache, they certainly help.
Lime and Coconut Shortbread Bars
Only slightly adopted from Tish Boyle's The Good Cookie
1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts
1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
Zest of one medium lime
1 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 300F, with rack in the middle. Greese a 9" square baking pan and set aside.
Place the nuts and 1/2 cup of the flour in a food processor and grind until the nuts are finely chopped. This should take about 10 seconds constant grinding. Add the rest of the flour, the cornstarch, the sugar, 1/4 cup of the coconut, the zest and the salt. Process for another 30 seconds, until blended, then add the butter cubes, scattering them around the flour mixture. Give the mixture 6 or 7 one-second pulses, then process for a continuous 6 seconds. The mixture should read a powdery consistency. Process once more for about 9 seconds, until the mixture begins to clump together.
Turn the dough out into the pan, and press it into the bottom. Sprinkle the remaining coconut on top, and lightly press it into the shortbread so that it sticks.
Bake for around 50 minutes, until the edges reach a light brown. Cool the bars in the pan, on a cooling rack, for 15 minutes. As they cool, cut them into bars, then remove them from the pan and transfer to the cooling rack until they reach room temperature.