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cornmeal-lime cookies

This chef recipe is from Chef Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery + Cafe in Boston.

A question commonly asked of professional pastry chefs is, “Where do you get your ideas?” I assume I’m not unlike others in that my response is “Everywhere!” I’m always on the lookout for unexpected flavor combinations, a beautifully presented pastry, or an enticing description of a cake. Books, magazines, movies, television shows, and restaurants all get my mind racing. And sometimes it’s as simple as a visit to another bakery and a taste of something that makes me want to rush home to see if I can replicate it. That’s how this cookie came to me. I picked up a cornmeal-lime cookie at my favorite bakery in New York, Amy’s Breads, along with about a dozen other treats, and that’s the one I went back for the next day. It’s wonderfully straightforward: rustic and buttery, with a fresh hit of lime and the appealing crunch of cornmeal. I loved it at first bite, and I knew I had to come up with a version of it for Flour. Make sure you bake the cookies until the tops are just firm to the touch and no longer, so the centers stay soft and almost cakelike. The tart lime glaze adds an addictive zing.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest (about 4 limes)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup medium-coarse yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Lime Glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 to 11/2 limes)
11/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest (about 1 lime)

1. Position a rack in center of oven, and heat oven to 350ºF.
2. Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer or a wooden spoon), cream together butter and sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy (this step will take 10 minutes if using a handheld mixer or a spoon). Stop mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape sides and bottom of bowl and paddle to release any clinging butter or sugar. Add lime zest and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute to release lime flavor. Add eggs and vanilla and continue to beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined. Scrape bowl and paddle again to make sure eggs are thoroughly incorporated.
3. In a small bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. On low speed (or with wooden spoon), slowly add flour mixture to butter-sugar mixture and then mix until flour is completely incorporated and dough is evenly mixed.
4. Drop dough in scant 1/4-cup balls onto a baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly with palm of your hand.
5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until cookies are pale brown on edges, still pale in center, and just firm in center. Be careful not to overbake cookies and let tops brown. Let cool on baking sheet on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool to room temperature or just a bit warmer before glazing (if you try to glaze cookies while still hot, glaze will run off).
6. To make glaze: while cookies are cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, water, lime juice and lime zest until smooth. You should have about 1/2 cup (glaze can be made up to 1 week ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature).
7. Brush cookies with a thin layer of glaze, then allow glaze to set for about 10 minutes before serving or storing.
8. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. The unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in a refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes 14 to 16 cookies

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