Cornmeal is one of my favorite “surprise” baking ingredients – it lends great texture, and unlike a lot of other whole grain flours, the flavor isn’t so strong that it overshadows the vanillas, spices, or fruits placed alongside it. It also happens to fit perfectly with a very traditional cookie recipe’s ubiquitous this time of year: Shortbread. There are endless variations on shortbread, but blue cornmeal makes these stand out. These cookies also make me think of luminarias and eating “Christmas” enchiladas in the southwest; not bland, store-bought shortbread that begs for some kind of beverage to make it palatable.
And did I mention that these cookies are really easy to make?
Blue Cornmeal Shortbread
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup blue cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 vanilla bean (seeds scraped out) OR 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup raw turbinado sugar
1. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
2. Beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla seeds or extract in an electric mixer with paddle attachment until just combined. Continue mixing and add the flour mixture in four additions, mixing until just combined.
3. Once ball starts to form, turn off mixer and shape dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap or bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (May be made up to two days in advance.)
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F; line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 1/4-inch thick sheet. Cut into large rounds using a bowl, then cut rounds into tortilla chip-shaped wedges.
6. Lay wedges on parchment-covered baking sheets and sprinkle with raw cane sugar. Bake until cookies are golden; about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
These cookies can last for up to one week when stored in an airtight container. Do not store in refrigerator.