Monday, August 6, 2012

Apricot Cornmeal Cookies

You know you have a great recipe when you not only make it over and over as written, but also use it as a base for adaptation and experimentation. That's how I feel about a delightful cornmeal drop cookie, which I've previously blogged about here. In that post, I was swapping in some of my own flavor variations by substituting apricots for brandy-soaked dates and replacing sage with anise seed. But I went back to the original to make a platter for a meeting at work. It was predicted to be a hot day, and I'd ordered crisp, chilled chef salads from the caterers, so just wanted a little bite of something light to finish off our lunch.

Apricots - even dried - bring a bright punch of summer sweet-n-sour but sage has an overwhelmingly fall-thanksgiving-turkey connotation for me. This time, I didn't bother trying to replace the sage, and just left it out. The crispy texture of these little guys is positively addictive. The combination of graininess from the cornmeal and thin buttery discs is just right. The sweetness is also exactly to my preference: sweet without being cloying, and balanced by tart chewy bursts of apricot fruit. They also keep really well, staying crisp in a tin for a few days (if I don't hand them all out in a cheap attempt to make new friends.)

Nevertheless, I have a true appreciation for the layer of complexity that the sage brings to these cookies. While it wasn't what I wanted for this particular batch, there was an element of depth that was lacking this time around. It will be fun to figure out what other flavors to try next time to add that sense of umami. In addition, while I chilled the dough for over 8 hours, and sliced the rounds very evenly, I didn't feel that they baked very evenly. Perhaps I need a new oven! A new insulated air-pocket cookie sheet! Presents for Lamb! Or, maybe just bake on sheets of parchment paper next time...

Apricot Cornmeal Cookies
makes about 40 cookies
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup finely ground cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
Cream together butter and sugar. Mix in egg. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Blend into butter mixture until combined. Stir in chopped apricots.
Roll in wax paper or plastic wrap into a 2" diameter log and chill at least 4 hours or up to one week. (Can also be frozen).
Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice chilled log into 1/4" thick slices and lay 1 inch apart on cookie sheet. Bake 11 minutes or until golden. Cool on racks.

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