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Old 02-10-2005, 01:23 AM   #1
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Big-Hearted Butter Shortbread Recipe and a question

I found this recipe in our local newspaper and thought it sounded good. I have a question. Does anyone know what the cornstarch does for the cookies? I have never seen a cookie recipe with cornstarch in it.

Big-Hearted Butter Shortbread
(Preparation 20 minutes, baking time 20 minutes each baking sheet)

For the cookies:
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the powdered sugar glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 to 6 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line one baking sheet if making 9 cookies, or two baking sheets if making 13 cookies, with parchment paper.

To make the cookies: Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing until it is incorporated and the dough holds together in large clumps and comes away from the side of the bowl.

Form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly flour the rolling surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 4 1/2- or 3 1/2-inch-long heart-shaped cutter, cut out the hearts. Use a thin metal spatula to transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, placing them about 1 inch apart. Gather together the dough scraps, roll them, and cut out additional hearts.

Bake one sheet at a time until the edges and bottoms of the cookies are lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir the powdered sugar and vanilla together with enough cream to form a thick, spreadable glaze. Use a thin metal spatula to spread half of each cookie heart with glaze. Let the cookies sit until the glaze is firm.

The cookies can be layered between sheets of wax paper in a tightly covered container and stored at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Makes nine 4 1/2-inch-long hearts, or thirteen 3 1/2-inch-long cookies.

(Recipe from "Big Fat Cookies" by Elinor Klivans, Chronicle Books, 2005, $17.95 paperback)

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Old 02-10-2005, 04:07 AM   #2
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My family recipe for Scottish shortbread (the real stuff!) uses rice flour with ordinary flour - it adds to the light texture of the finished biscuit.... maybe that's what the cornflour will do with this recipe, but I'm not sure 8)
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Old 02-10-2005, 07:10 AM   #3
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Sierra, I'm pretty sure the cornstarch is used to lighten the dough as Ishbel said and also to add some crisipiness. These sound good.
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Old 02-11-2005, 12:33 AM   #4
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Thanks Ishbel and mudbug. I thought the cookies sounded good, also.

Dove should recognize the recipe if she gets the local regional paper, The Sacramento Bee.
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Old 02-12-2005, 07:42 AM   #5
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Thanks Sierra - these look yummy, and now I know what I'm making my Valentines' cookies with!

Was thinking I'd do some pink and red glaze, too, and maybe some chocolate and pepeprmint - depends on how creative I feel tomorrow, lol!
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Old 02-13-2005, 07:53 AM   #6
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Sierra - Just made these last night - the dough is a dream to work with! And the cookies are wonderful - not too sweet, a perfect foil for frosting, and really, really tender and crisp! TY!
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Old 02-13-2005, 01:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marmalady
Sierra - Just made these last night - the dough is a dream to work with! And the cookies are wonderful - not too sweet, a perfect foil for frosting, and really, really tender and crisp! TY!
You are welcome. I am glad the recipe turned out OK, since I had not had a chance to make them.
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Old 02-13-2005, 03:35 PM   #8
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The recipe looks great. In answer to the question of what the corn-starch does; It increaases the ratio of starch to protien, which indeed creates a more tender and light end product. Think of the difference between beer batter and tempura batter. Though the beer batter b=is fairly light, and benefits from the yeast flavor and carbonation provided from the beer, the tempura batter is lighter still. That's because tempura batter is made with 1 part AP flour and 1 part cornstarch. You are essentially making a cake four, but even lighter. In fact, if you have too much cornstarch, the end result won't have enough bodie to hold together. I have had this problem with cakes. I modified a recipe to reduce the gluten content, hoping for an incredibly light and moist cake. I got the texture I wanted, but it wouldn't hold together well enough to serve. It just crumbled on the plates.

Hope that helps explain things.

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Old 02-13-2005, 08:01 PM   #9
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Thanks for explanation, goodweed.
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