Shortbread, you either love or don’t love it.  In my case, for the limited amount of cookies I eat, I love it.  Especially when it has a twist to it.  Many of you have heard me talk of “flavour and taste” when cooking, the same applies to baking – but with much more precision.  These shortbread cookies have a lemon flavour added to them and they also have a nice crunch via the cornmeal in them as well as the crust around the outside.  Really a pleasant surprise when you bite into it. Now you will most always find me using “salted” butter in baking. Couple of reasons – first, the recipes that call for unsalted butter almost always call for the addition of salt (yes sometimes even those with salted butter call for the addition of salt, but a lot less). Second, salted butter is the perfect amount of salt to add to the butter i.e. it’s been prepared for consumption as is. Why mess with unsalted when you have to add salt anyway?! Oh and please don’t ever use light butter in baking, maybe to grease your tins, but that’s about all it’s good for – no really!

You will notice that most of the cookies I make at Christmas time are small. That’s because it is a time for sampling many different things and there is no bigger compliment to a Chef than having people try everything put before them. So, that is why (in most cases) the cookies are small (some you just can’t make small, they lose something in translation). This is a simply great recipe to make, no fussing about, just mix, refrigerate, cut and bake.  There are many variations I can think off for this cookie but purists of the shortbread kind, will absolutely hate me for it.  Oh well – here goes anyway!  This shortbread cookie is rolled in cornmeal before slicing and baking, you could use the coloured sugars available – just grind them really fine in the processor first.  Try grinding some nuts i.e. almonds, pecans, hazelnuts etc, and roll your shortbread logs in them before cutting – just so long as there are no nut allergies in the family (I mean the edible kind of nuts).  So give this a try and be creative – push the boundaries of shortbread, scoff at the purists, long live butter, sugar, flour and vanilla!  As always – enjoy!

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsps. vanilla extract
2 tsps. lemon zest
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsps. yellow cornmeal plus 1/4 cup for rolling onto the refrigerated dough before baking
1/2 tsp salt (I know, but it is necessary)

Using the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar until creamy – please remember to start of on low speed to get the icing sugar incorporated not sprayed all over the kitchen
Add the vanilla and the zest – mix on low to incorporate – scrape down the sides as necessary
Slowly add the flour, the 2 tbsps. cornmeal and salt – mix until combined and the dough comes together (about 2 – 3 minutes depending on your mixer and speed)
Once the dough has come together, divide the dough into 2 – 3 pieces – roll each into a log about the size of a Toonie (about 1 1/4″ in diameter) and refrigerate
Preheat your oven to 300f – line baking sheets with parchment
Spread the remaining cornmeal onto a piece of parchment (wider than the width of your rolls of dough)
Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap, roll in the cornmeal, cut into 1/4″ widths and place on the baking sheets – bake for 25 to 30 minutes – rotate the pans at the 12 minute mark
Cookies should be pale golden when done
Cool on the sheet on a rack
As always – enjoy!

Citrus Cornmeal Shortbread Unbaked

Unbaked Citrus Cornmeal Shortbread

Citrus Cornmeal Shortbread 1

Citrus Cornmeal Shortbread