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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lemon Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies - Fine Cooking

I love this shortbread. It is short, buttery, and has a slight lemon flavor from the grated lemon rind. I have made this twice so far, once with regular flour and then with unbleached flour. The recipe calls for unbleached flour but my personal taste is for the regular flour - it gives the shortbread a finer consistency.

A dear friend and the group at work have been the "tasters." All round, these cookies got a five star rating. Here is the recipe, from "Fine Cooking," slightly adapted.

Lemon Cornmeal Shortbread Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup) finely ground yellow cornmeal (I used Bob's Red Mill Cornmeal Flour - it is nice and fine and not at all gritty.)
1/2 tsp. table salt
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened at room temperature; more for the pan
1-3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (I think a caster sugar would also be nice.)
1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest (I use a Microplane-style zester)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease the sides and bottom of a 9x13-­inch baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with the parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornnmeal, and salt to blend. In a large bowl, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla; with a hand-held electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat on medium-­high speed until light and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the bowl. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the dough begins to form moist clumps. Dump the dough into the prepared pan.

Using a rubber spatula or lightly floured fingertips, spread the dough into the pan in a smooth, even layer. Dip the tip of a knife or a small metal spatula in flour (to prevent sticking) and score the dough all the way through into bars that measure 1x2-1/2 inches (about 1 inch across the short side and just a smidgen over 2-1/2 inches on the long side). Bake until the tops look dry and a pale golden brown, 35 to 40 min. Transfer the pan to a rack. Immediately cut the shortbread into bars, with a metal bench scraper or a knife, using the scored lines as a guide (they will have faded a bit during baking). It’s important to do this right after the shortbread comes out of the oven; if you wait until it has cooled, it will crumble when you try to cut it. Let the bars cool completely in the pan before removing them with a small, flexible offset spatula.

Make Ahead Tips
The shortbread dough can be pressed into the pan, scored, covered, and frozen up to a month before thawing and baking. The baked bars keep, well wrapped, for up to three days at room temperature.