Lemon Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies

It’s a week until Thanksgiving. Are you panicking yet? I’ve been going through my stack of the last 10 or so years of November Martha Stewart Living and Everyday Food magazines, scouring for the perfect recipes to serve on the big day. Since about the beginning of October. I’ve looked through countless blogs and cookbooks, trying to narrow the list down to the chosen few that will grace our table. Who knew there were so many ways to cook a turkey! And let’s not even talk about the mashed potatoes.

Along the way in my Thanksgiving planning I got distracted. By cookies. (Are you surprised?) Lemon Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies to be exact. I always forget how much I enjoy shortbread cookies. Here I am, thinking I only love soft, chewy cookies, forsaking all the rest, and then bam. I bite into a shortbread cookie, with its ultra-buttery goodness, and realize how wrong I’ve been. There’s room for all kinds of cookies in this world.

Buttery, crumbly, and sweet, with a cornmeal crunch and a burst of lemon, they’ll win over even the most staunch of chewy cookie lovers. And shortbread is the perfect “pack it up” cookie to ship in cookie care packages! I hope you'll share some this holiday. Or keep them all for yourself. That's okay too.

We're onto the 3rd Cookie of the 12 Cookies of Christmas already! Hope you keep coming back for more cookie goodness in the weeks to come!

Lemon Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Holiday Cookies 2012 and Fine Cooking Cookies Holiday 2012
Makes 18 bars

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9x9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper, allowing about 2 inches to overhang on opposite sides. Lightly spray parchment with cooking spray as well; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, and salt until combined; set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until combined.
4. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and lightly knead together dough holds together. Transfer dough to prepared pan and press into a smooth, even layer. Using the tip of a knife, score the dough all the way through, cutting into bars measuring about 1 ½ inches by 3 inches. Using a fork or the end of a wooden skewer, poke holes evenly along the bars. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
5. While chilling, preheat oven to 325F. When chilled, sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over dough. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until golden brown and top looks dry, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and using a sharp knife or a bench scraper immediately cut through scored marks into bars again. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes before using parchment overhang to lift shortbread out of the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

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