I’m back into the cornmeal again. I can’t help it. I just love the stuff! So when I saw that Dorie Greenspan had a recipe for Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies in Baking From My Home to Yours, I just couldn’t resist trying it out. I mean, I’m definitely a fan of rich, buttery, melt-in-your mouth shortbread. And we’ve already discussed my obsession with cornmeal, so it is no surprize that I was really intrigued by these cookies.
Shortbread is pretty easy to make. You just have to remember a couple of key points. The first is, don’t over beat the butter. While you want the sugar and butter blended, you don’t want to beat it until it becomes light a fluffy. The second thing to remember is that once you add the flour to the butter, mix them together quickly and gently, stopping as soon as the flour is incorporated. Once you’ve gotten the batter all mixed up, Dorie Greenspan suggests that you place the shortbread dough in a gallon ziplock bag and then roll it out in the bag. I must say, this suggestion is just brilliant! It was so much easier and much less messy than any of the methods I have tried before. I made the shortbread dough up on one day, refrigerated it overnight and then baked it on the following day. Pretty straight forward.
How did the Cornmeal Shortbread turn out? Fantastic! I can honestly say this is the BEST shortbread I have ever eaten! It has all of the rich buttery goodness of usual shortbread, along with the sandy texture. But the bit of cornmeal added to the mix gives this particular shortbread some extra crunch. Plus the lemon zest adds a really fresh zing. My husband, who isn’t really a shortbread fan… Wait! What?! Really, it’s true. In fact, when I mentioned I was making shortbread cookies he grabbed his throat and acted as if he was desperate need of water. You know like he had been traipsing around the desert for a week. Shortbread is soo dry, he gasped. Hmmm….But after he tasted these cookies, he agreed that they are the best he has ever tasted. So good, he is now even rethinking his previously held stance on shortbread cookies I know you might still be a bit skeptical about cornmeal in a shortbread cookie. I don’t blame you, I was too. And you probably shouldn’t trust me. You’ll just have to try them for yourself. You’ll see I was right. Well what are you waitin for? Get to baking!
Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies
recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours
Yield: 32 cookies
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 2/3 cup sugar
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt together into a bowl, then whisk in the cornmeal.
Working in the bowl of a stand mixer, rub the sugar and zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment or the whisk, or use a hand mixer. Add the butter and extract to the bowl and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is very smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they just disappear into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated.
Using a rubber spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10″ rectangle that’s 1/4″ thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board and using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2″ squares, or the size you desire. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 300°F. Bake the shortbreads for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads should be set and only just tinged golden. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool to room temperature.