3156 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles (Atwater Village)
Before visiting L.A. recently, I had read that a brand new bakery called Proof (opened in December ’10) was making a cookie called a zimsterne. I’d somehow never heard of these, which is surprising because it is a cookie that is completely after my own heart. I have a soft spot for anything almond – particularly almond paste, marzipan or almond flour – the latter being a key player in the zimsterne. Also, I love cinnamon. I was sold – enough so to make the somewhat out-of-the-way drive (from where I was) to Atwater Village (not far from Silverlake).
It turns out, however, that zimsterne are (German) Christmas cookies. So when I visited the bakery just last week (mid January), the seasonal version had been replaced by something closely related – a “lemon meringue cookie”. This was basically a zimsterne minus the cinnamon and with an extra dose of lemon, and “meringue” only in the sense that it employed egg whites and sugar. But instead of being meringue-y like a pie topping or a meringue cookie, it was made with almond flour and was chewy and dense and lemony and way more delicious than it looks in the photo below. It actually appears cakey and snickerdoodle-y in this shot. Which, again, it is not.
I wanted to illustrate how chewy and non-crumbly actually is, which is why I squished a little piece between my thumb and forefinger so you could get an idea of how delightfully moist and dense it is in real life (see below). If you look closely, you can see my thumbprint; try doing that with a damn snickerdoodle. The only crumbs produced by this cookie come from the crisp, sugary-lemony icing that perfectly compliments the chewy disc.
After pinching up every last bit of my lemon meringue cookie, I was left wondering why I don’t come across something like this more often. But after reading David Lebovitz’ ode to them, in which even the accomplished pastry chef/cookbook author claims to have had failure with his own zimsterne forays, I’m gathering that they are more difficult to pull off than their simple recipe would indicate. So…the fact that it is not such an ubiquitous offering makes it all the more worth seeking out.
P.S. It’s gluten-free. No flour – just almond meal.