Charles Dickens once wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness." He must have been shopping at Ikea.
It's admittedly exciting to enter Ikea, young and eager, with an entire blank apartment before you. You walk through the mock rooms, feeling pillowcases and sofa beds, mistakenly thinking that the modern Swedish aesthetic is the right one for you. And Ikea spends a lot of time making you feel good about your shitty apartment. Small spaces are the family-budget-earth-friendly homes of the future! You sail through the aisles, feeling not like the penniless writer you are, but like an eco-warrior. You triumphantly write down the number of your tiny Leksvik desk, your heart singing, "Mansions are for a$*holes!"
Yet as day turns into night, you start to lose sense of what you want and why you came. You refuse to pay more than $20 for a dining room chair, but you pile your cart high with empty glass jars that might look cool on a mantel somewhere. By 8 pm, you see people begin to crack; they grimace and shake their golf pencils in the air. Arguments erupt over swivel chairs. Couples crumble at your feet. A child crawls into a bed and sleeps. Of course, all this is before you even get home and realize that your enthusiasm for cheap furniture has led you into a second level of hell known as "Ikea furniture building."
Personally, after I got halfway through assembling a dresser only to realize that I had the shelves on backwards, I gave up and devoted myself to making use of another Ikea purchase: lingonberry jam. Perhaps in an attempt to restore order into my life, I decided I needed to make an elegant looking cookie and I started with a variation on vanilla tuiles.
These cookies are simple but delicate. Using egg whites and no leavening agent makes them light and slightly chewy. After they cooled, I sandwiched them around a layer of lingonberry jam. The components balance each other wonderfully: the cookies are sweet and full of vanilla, while the jam is tart and full of berries. Overall, these were a success, though hopefully I won't have to go back to Ikea to make them again.
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About the author: Carrie Vasios is the Community Manager of Serious Eats and writes the Wake and Bake, Cookie Monster, and Serious Entertaining columns. She likes perusing her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar.