Oranges, and Butter, and Corn…Oh, My!- Citrus Cornmeal Shortbread – 9 eggs, 3-1/4 cups of sugar, and 20 Tbsp Butter used so far- 171 recipes to go!

March 12, 2010

Martha's Citrus Cornmeal Shortbread- They are the three cookies on top.

André's Citrus Cornmeal Shortbread

Yesterday’s cookies were the Pistachio Tuiles which lasted exactly 20 minutes at work this morning.

Needless to say, they were a big hit. Buttery, crispy, but with a tendency to stick to your teeth as you chewed. A few of my favorite remarks were…

“I’ve never tasted anything like this.”


“These would be really good with ice cream.”


“Are those the cookies you compared to cat barf? I’m not eating that.”

Thanks for the feedback, folks. Now, on to my next recipe- Citrus Cornmeal Shortbread.

Shortbread is a sweet and crumbly cake with its origin firmly planted in the hills of ancient Scotland. The first written record of shortbread dates back to the 16th century but its existence is thought to be much older. Dairy farming was a profession of the lower peasant classes in Medieval Scotland. They would use the dairy to make butter and cheese which were considered by the Scottish nobility to be the staples of the poor. In the mid 1500s some noble must’ve decided to taste these lowly cow byproducts and thought- (read the following in your best Scottish brogue) – “In the name of the wee man, this dreck tastes of that which me likes! The Lord be thankit!”

Thus the Scottish nobility took the poor man’s treasure of butter and created shortbread.

Shortbread is traditionally baked in one, large, flat, circular mound which is then scored with a knife to resemble rays extending from its center. This is thought to be a leftover pagan design from when the ancient Scots worshipped the sun.

If I were a Scotsman and only saw the sun five days a year, I’d worship it, too. Probably leave it little gifts. A copy of Martha Stewart’s Cookies perhaps.

I’m sure the lack of sunshine has something to do with the invention of Scotch as well, but I don’t feel like researching it right now. Besides, it’s more fun to speculate.

So, the recipe for shortbread consists of butter, flour, sugar, and salt. Anything you add to this is lagniappe.

I love that word – lagniappe- (pronounced- LAN-YAP) My blog doesn’t come with a glossary so I am going to pause a moment to explain lagniappe.

Lagniappe is the Cajun expression for the common phrase- A Baker’s Dozen. It means that a little extra somethin’-somethin’ has been added out of the kindness of one’s heart.

It’s a lovely philosophy and a good one at that. I wish there was more lagniappe in the world.

The lagniappe in Martha’s recipe for Citrus Cornmeal Shortbread is…you guessed it… Citrus and Cornmeal!

Two sticks of butter are whipped with 3/4 cups of powdered sugar until creamy. 1 1/2 tsp of orange zest and 2 tsp of vanilla are added followed by 2 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons of cornmeal and a teaspoon of salt. You then take the dough and divide it in half and roll it into two  logs with diameters of about an 1 1/2 inches. Wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Incidentally, I make my own vanilla extract. It’s not that I am particularly crafty, it’s just that good vanilla is freakin’ expensive! Besides, I like mine better. All you need is a cheap bottle of whisky or vodka and about four of five vanilla beans. Cut down the length of the beans and stick them in the bottle and in a few months time you’ll have some grade A vanilla extract. When you run out add more vodka or whisky and beans to the same bottle along with the old beans and keep it going.

Anyhoo, take the dough logs out of the fridge and roll them in cornmeal. Cut them into 1/4 inch disks and place on a baking sheet covered in…(say it with me)…parchment paper!

I have a feeling I’m going to go through more parchment paper than William Shakespeare.

Bake the cookies at 300 degrees for 30 minutes and then let them cool.

The aroma is terrific. It has that warm and inviting fresh-baked smell with just enough orange to really add freshness.

How do they taste? They have the subtly sweet taste of most shortbread with a slight hint of cornbread. The cornmeal on the outside rim of the cookie gives it a nice crispness.

All-in-all I am pleased with how well these baked.

I have enlisted the help of a friend who claims to be a shortbread aficionado. I shall refer to her as Baroness Shortbread and will deliver these treats to her tomorrow. I will post her response with my next entry.

Martha has quite a few shortbread recipes in her book and so the Baroness will be called upon often.

Hehe- I’m one week into my blog and I already have a recurring mystery character.

So there you have it. Shortbread- an ancient sweet treat with a delectable history.

It’s amazing that a country who gave us bagpipes, kilts, plaid, and Sheena Easton chose to exercise subtlety in their sweets.

Thanks, Scotland, and thanks, Martha, for a buttery and delicious cookie with a bit of Vitamin C.

The ‘C’ stands for Corn… well, Corn and Citrus…Oh, and crumbly…and crispy…and…well, you get the idea.

4 Responses to “Oranges, and Butter, and Corn…Oh, My!- Citrus Cornmeal Shortbread – 9 eggs, 3-1/4 cups of sugar, and 20 Tbsp Butter used so far- 171 recipes to go!”

  1. Jen Says:

    thank you for explaining the big words. Top Chef never does, and it’s irritating! I have to run to the computer to look up “beurre” and “escabeche.” 😛

  2. Jen Says:

    Oh, and…

    Have you contacted Martha to tell her you’re doing this?! I bet she’d donate to your cause if she knew!!!!

  3. Chris Says:

    Love this thread, Andre. You’re animating cookie making much grander than Martha.

  4. Not a bad idea, Jen. I want to wait till I get further into the blog to contact Martha. I don’t know how I’d feel about her once I reach the 75th recipe. I imagine she is either going to become my Jedi Master or she is going to become the reason I need rehab.

    We’ll see where this goes.

    Keep reading and thanks for all the support, Boss Lady!

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