I Invented a Whole New Dessert With This Shortbread Ingredient Swap
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Butter shortbread is one of my favorite treats. A simple recipe with few ingredients that come together quickly is always a welcome thing to have in your arsenal, and if you tend to make yours less sweet, like I do, it’s an ideal thing to keep in your cookie box. Shortbread cookies keep for a long time in a container at room temperature and almost indefinitely when properly stored in the freezer. It is excellent with coffee or afternoon tea, or as an end to a light sweet meal, or as an accompaniment to another dessert such as ice cream or pudding.
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Frankly, shortbread is a near-perfect food, so it might seem silly to deal with it. But trust me, just because it’s delicious as is doesn’t mean it can’t be more so with a few tweaks. I’ve been known to add everything from cocoa powder to cardamom, topping it with flaky sea salt or raw sugar crystals, and even zhuzh with nuts or crisps. But I always came back to basics. Until I made a batch with cornmeal.
Related—How to make soft cookies
Why cornmeal is a secret shortbread ingredient
Cornmeal, preferably stone ground, adds incredible texture and flavor to your shortbread recipe. The sweet nuttiness creates a whole new flavor sensation and takes these cookies to a place where they can get sweet or savory depending on your choice. They hold up beautifully against cheeses, make a great twist on cornbread to accompany chili or stew, but are also a perfect pairing for your afternoon cuppa.
How to swap corn flour in shortbread recipes
You can use any shortbread recipe you already know and love. Mine is below, but if you want to experiment, start by swapping some of your flour in your recipe with an equal amount of cornmeal. I prefer finely ground, but I’ve used coarsely with success, it just gives a more intense texture. If you want them corn, use half cornmeal and half all-purpose. If you want the corn flour to have more texture and a sweet base note, you can use as little as a quarter of your flour volume. No other adjustments need to be made to your recipe: mix and cook as you always would. I prefer my corn shortbread cookies a little more toasted than the traditional pale blonde of regular shortbread cookies, but make them how you like them. I also use high quality, lightly salted butter because salt and corn go really well together.
1 cup lightly salted butter, softened (I like Kerrygold, Plugra or Lurpak for this)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup flour or finely stone-ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon of vanilla paste
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix. Whisk flour and cornmeal together in a bowl, then add to mixer and beat until combined.
2. Make a log with plastic wrap for the sliced cookies and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to four days. If you want to cut out shapes, roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper about ½ inch thick, then place in the refrigerator for at least an hour before cutting out the desired shapes.
3. When you want to bake, heat the oven to 375° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice your cookies as thin or thick as you like, or arrange your pre-cut shapes on the molds leaving an inch between them. Bake for 9 to 18 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the cookies, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Looking for a light golden brown around the edges, but I also sometimes like when some go a little darker.
4. Cool completely on a wire rack then transfer to an airtight container or freeze.