Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies (Baking with Dorie)

It's every cook's nightmare. You buy a whole bunch of lemons. You run into one recipe after another that calls for lemon zest. The first calls for the zest of one lemon. The second calls for a teaspoon of zest. The third calls for six strips of lemon rind.

But here's where it falls apart.

There is suddenly a shortage of recipes that call for lemon juice. All of the vinaigrettes are vinegar based. The kids have no interest in lemonade. So all the lemons are hanging out, stripped of their zest, naked and exposed, waiting to be juiced.

It is a sad state of affairs. Anyway, the bad news is that if you're looking for a lemon juice recipe, you've come to the wrong place. This is yet another lemon zest recipe that will do nothing to help with your unfortunate predicament.

But it's a really good one. Lemony and incredibly textured. It's from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook - Baking: From My Home to Yours. In Dorie's words, it has an 'appealing tickle-your-tongue roughness.' Couldn't have said it better myself.

Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies, adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours
The original recipe doesn't call for dipping in chocolate, but my kids laugh at me when I serve a dessert that doesn't have some chocolate. I left a few of the cookies un-dipped for some of the more boring adult members of the family. But the chocolate dipped ones are so much prettier!

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 sticks margarine, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1/8 teaspoon oil
Non-pareils (optional)

Stir the flour, corn starch, salt and cornmeal together in a medium bowl.

Put the sugar and zest into the bowl of your stand mixer. User your fingers to rub the two together till your hands smell lovely and the sugar is nice and moist. Add the margarine and vanilla to the same mixing bowl and use the paddle attachment of your mixer to mix well, on medium speed, for 3-4 minutes, scraping down a couple of times.

Turn off the mixer and pour in the dry ingredients. Mix on low for a minute or less, just to combine the ingredients. Don't over-mix, you want the dry ingredients JUST incorporated.

Scrape the dough into a large (1-gallon size) ziploc bag. Before you zip the bag shut, put it on a flat surface and roll the dough with a rolling pin. You should end up with a 10x10 inch (or so) rectangle.

Seal the bag and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, and up to 2 days.

When you're ready to bake, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350*.

Put the bag on a cutting board and use a serrated knife to slit it open. Turn the dough out onto the cutting board and discard the bag. Use a ruler to guide you, and cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Carefully prick each square with a fork so the fork goes all the way through to the cutting board.

Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets and place in the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 300* and bake the cookies for 25-30 minutes until just set.

Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Once it's melted, stir in the oil. Use a spoon or knife to smear the chocolate over half of each cookie. Before the chocolate has set, sprinkle some non-pareils over the cookies, if desired. Allow to set before eating.

Read my fellow bloggers' recipes over at Baking with Dorie


  1. You're on the ball, Rivki! YUM, YUM! We love shortbread cookies and my mouth's watering just looking at yours! I made some choc shortbread cookies on sticks as gifts for Mother's Day. I decorated them with colored royal icing and they were such a hit with my family members!

    Can't wait to try out this one!

  2. Rivki, these look delicious and I can tell from the pretty photos that they have a perfect texture. I love citrus zest in baked goods. :)

  3. I have this problem all the time. And reading this post I kept thinking you'd provide a solution at the end. Wrong! Oh well. These look so yummy!

  4. They look terrific- and I love dipping them in chocolate.

  5. Those look amazing. Will have to try these soon.

  6. They look fantastic. I love that you dipped them in chocolate. I just finished making these & they're a huge hit at my house. We love them! Thanks for a great pick & for baking with us this week.

  7. Rivki , i loveee ur choice , these were absolutely fantastic and i fall in love with crucnhy cookies u know.
    Am so happy to find ur v v v pretty cookies , dipped in chocolate , u know i have some chocolate on mine too:-)
    the texture is gorgeous too!
    happy week to ya with lods of cookie love!

  8. Your post really made me smile! I know exactly what you mean about lemons! Your cookies look gorgeous. I like the idea of dipping them in chocolate - you can't go wrong with chocolate! Thank you for sharing this post with Let's Do Brunch. Hope to see you there again tomorrow!

  9. These cookies are beautiful--and I have a lot of cornmeal looking for recipes. BTW, I just did a post on homemade lemonade (http://artofnaturalliving.com/2011/06/04/lo-cal-summer-beverages-homemade-natural-lemonade/)--too bad your kids have rejected it, since homemade is so healthy.


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