Don’t you just love the idea of these cookies? Cookies with cornmeal and herbs! We never would have thought of such a thing, but, once we saw the recipe, we knew we had to try them. After all, a savory cookie sounds almost like it might be nutritious, right? Well, we really know that they won’t exactly be nutritious, but they’ll be different from the old standards of cookiedom that most people bake.
This recipe comes pretty much unaltered from The Flying Brownie, by Shirley Fan. Now, if you remember, her Pecan Sandy Bars were out of this world (you did make those, right?) and easy to put together, so we’re expecting great things here, too. We will say that we originally cut the recipe in half, as the instructions indicated that it should make seven to eight dozen cookies. After making up one batch, we thought that number might be overestimated a bit, so we quickly made up another. That means, of course, that our photos show half the amount that you’ll have making his recipe.
Yesterday, we made up our own recipe for the Herbes de Provence and you can use that, or, if you have a commercial mix on hand, that’ll work, too. Even though these cookies will be slightly savory, use unsalted butter or you might end up with something that tastes like an herby salt lick. And, of course, it goes without saying that natural vanilla extract is the only kind that’s acceptable to scratchers, yourself included. Finally, for the zest, if you’re not using organic lemons (you should really consider it), wash the lemons extremely well. We wash twice with dish detergent and hot water.
Procedure in detail:
Mix drys. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt, and herbs. While we suggest a whisk as it mixes faster and better, a spoon will work just fine. Set aside.
Zest lemon. Most lemons at the store are coated in a food grade wax. We’re thinking that you don’t really want that in your cookies, so give that lemon a good washing up, followed by a drying and zesting. One medium-sized lemon will produce enough zest for these cookies. You’ll have to find another use for the fruit; we squeezed the juice into iced tea.
Cream butter and sugar. With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. If it doesn’t seem as if it’s creaming, feel the bowl to see if the butter was room temperature. If so, cream longer; if not, wait awhile before creaming.
Add flavor. Add lemon zest and vanilla and mix on low until incorporated.
Add drys. In three additions, add the flour mixture. Pulse the mixer to start the mixing (trying to avoid the flour from shooting out the top), then mix on low until just combined. Once combined, you can add the next addition of flour.
Shape. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and shape into two square logs (well, they could be round, if you prefer, or one of each) about 1 1/2 inches on a side. It should be about 10 inches long.
Chill. Wrap the logs in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or as long as overnight. This chilling will make the dough easy to slice and work.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
Slice. Don’t you just love slice and bake things? We do. So, slice off cookies about 1/4-inch thick and place on the prepared sheets about an inch apart. The cookies will spread slightly, so don’t try to cheat and squeeze to many on each sheet.
Sprinkle. This is really optional, but if you want, sprinkle a bit of granulated sugar on top of each cookie.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, or until the cookies are just browning around the edges.
Cool. Let the cookies cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheets, then carefully transfer to a rack to cool completely.
We thought these cookies would be a bit more savory than they were. Or sure, they were good, with a nice lemony flavor and a hint of herbs, but we think they could have used even more herbs to make them stand out from ordinary lemon shortbread cookies. The cornmeal was a nice touch; it added crunch to the cookies, but without adding too much corn flavor (not that cookies that taste more like corn bread would be bad), but here it’s the texture that’s changed: for the better. Four stars.