On a recent visit to Magnolia Bakery, I found my eyes wandering from the dessert cases over to the cookie jars. Obviously a trip to Magnolia means a cupcake will be consumed, but if you’ve never tried any of the bakery’s other offerings, you certainly should. I won’t even get into their breakfast items because the muffins deserve a post of their own. As I said, on this particular trip I found myself staring at the cookie jars and just could.not.look.away. My eyes landed on the Lemon-Cornmeal Shortbread and my mind instantly went into hyper-drive: “Citrus, butter, cornmeal and sugar? It makes perfect sense! Why didn’t I think of that?” Cupcake be damned, I NEEDED to try that cookie.
…But you know what? I took a bite and it was just… it was just okay. I will be honest: it was barely okay. It wasn’t citrusy, wasn’t really crunchy, and the expected lightly sweet flavor profile of the corn just fell flat. I am absolutely sure there are plenty of recipes out there that do this combination of ingredients justice, but this one in particular just got me thinking some more: Maybe not everything should be changed or over-thought. There have been plenty of times when I have combined seemingly perfect complimentary ingredients only to have the end result turn out just satisfactory. Not everything has to be complicated. Dare I say it? ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’
My great-grandmother was 100% Scotch and I grew up with a lot of shortbread in my house. I should also say that my family loves sweets so regardless of heritage, I probably would have grown up with it anyway. Whenever my dad replicates her version of the butter cookie, they usually disappear quickly. She was a pretty straightforward lady and it’s no surprise that her shortbread recipe is equally unfussy… and delicious. The cookies you see in the images above are made from her recipe, not Magnolia’s. If you are wondering just how simple her version is, you will just have to click below to find out!
Makes about 5 doz. 1/4″ cookies (I use a 2″x2″ square cookie cutter)
- 1lb salted sweet cream butter, cold (I use unsalted, but original recipe calls for salted)
- 1 C. granulated sugar
- 4 C. all-purpose flour
- Cut butter into cubes and pour into the bowl of your stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if you are using a hand mixer)
- Pour in cup of sugar and mix on medium with whisk attachment
- Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and push dough out of whisk, to ensure that the butter and sugar are fully incorporated
- The dough should be crumbly
- Replace wire whisk with dough hook (if you are using a hand mixer, turn off at this point and use a wooden spoon… and some elbow grease!)
- Adding one cup of flour at a time, mix the dough on a slow speed until it comes together to form a large ball
- On a floured surface, separate the ball into four equal parts, wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/4″ thick and cut with either a sharp knife, or cookie cutter of your preference
- Bake 8-10 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn gold
That’s it! Enjoy!