Chocolate Cornmeal Shortbread

I saw a recipe recently for lemon shortbread cookies that added some cornmeal for a twist. As I’m a fan of corn in almost all its forms, I thought I’d give the concept a try. Of course, I had to make the recipe my own by incorporating a few changes.

I decided to make mine chocolate. As coffee increases the impact of the chocolate, I added some instant espresso powder dissolved in a mix of creme de cacao and vanilla. Of course, if you’re not using the Creme de Cacao liquor, up the amount of vanilla extract to one teaspoon.

The shortbread cookies were crisp, with a depth of chocolate and a bit of nuttiness that was absolutely delicious.

1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1/3 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons), softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream de cacao liquor, optional
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl.

Put the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Place the espresso powder in the vanilla and creme de cacao and stir to dissolve. Pour into the batter and mix until blended. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the dough forms moist clumps. Mix in the chopped chocolate.

Turn the dough out onto a parchment lined surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness, turning, lifting, and repositioning the parchment throughout the rolling. Slide the dough onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Using a 2 1/2-inch round (or any shape) cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Arrange about 1 inch apart on parchment covered cookie sheets. Stack the scraps, gently press together, reroll, and cut as before. Slide the cookie sheets into the fridge while the oven heats (at least 15 minutes). Bake, one sheet at a time, until the tops look dry and very pale brown, 25 to 28 minutes.

Let the shortbread cool completely on the cookie sheets. Store in an airtight container.

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