Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lemon-Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies

This recipe was on Poppytalk a while back, and I found it while searching through my Reader for Lottie & Doof's brown butter shortbread cookies, which I've had on my "to make" list for some time. Because we've been having such lovely summerlike weather, I decided to save the brown butter cookies for a cozier day, and make these sunny yellow cookies today, using the Meyer lemons from my newly planted tree. The wonderful thing about shortbread is that it is pretty much foolproof. In the simplest versions, all you need are butter, flour, and sugar. Since the basic recipe is so easy, the cookies can be dressed up in a million ways. My friend Christine makes amazing salt and pepper shortbread with fleur de sel, and it's easy to dress up your shortbread with cardamom, toasted coconut, rosemary (I've made rosemary pine nut ones as well- they go wonderfully with blood orange sorbet!), green tea, chamomile... you name it! Anyways, I've modified the recipe slightly, and I think they came out really well. They are lemony and buttery with just a little crunch from the cornmeal. This recipe makes about 32 cookies.

1 1/3 C flour
1/2 C yellow cornmeal
4 T cornstarch or tapioca flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 C unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Grated lemon zest from 3 small lemons or two medium ones
Demerara sugar for sprinkling (I used Turbinado- any coarse sugar will do)

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream the butter and sugar. Add in the vanilla and lemon zest and mix. In another bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, cornstarch and salt and whisk together. Slowly add in the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture and stir until just combined.

Prepare your baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat, and using your hands, pinch off about a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Press each ball with your thumb and repeat, spacing each cookie about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the undersides of the cookie are slightly golden. Cool on wire racks.

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