Sometimes "you only get one chance to make a first impression" doesn't apply. Have you ever met someone that immediately rubbed you the wrong way and you later ended up being great friends? Sometimes, although not always at first, unlikely pairs attract. This is exactly what happened with these Basil Cornmeal Shortbread Sandwiches with Apricot Filling.
Putting herbs in baked goods is not something I'm a stranger to (see: rosemary shortbread and thyme corn bread) but I had never considered basil before. Basil is for caprese sandwiches and pestos - not for baking. Turns out I was only half right. Although chopped basil did add uniqueness to the shortbread, I had to change the wording from the original recipe which called them "cookies". The word "cookies" made this creation confusing and after taking my first bite under the impression that I was eating a cookie I was utterly dissapointed. It was savory, dry, barely sweet, and intensely basil flavored. What had I done??
I was about near ready to call it a fail when I remembered the apricot jam. A generous smear was just what the shortbread needed to balance savory and sweet. Although the jam helped, what really made this recipe stellar was 24 hours in the fridge. Over this time, the flavors had a time to mesh together and I went from literally spitting them out to hoarding them in a tupperware. Moral of the story - first impressions aren't always accurate and if you give it time you might end up with an unexpectedly delicious baked good (or friend! ..minus the delicious)
Basil Cornmeal Sandwich Shortbread with Apricot Filling
Level of Difficulty: Intermediate
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/3 cups confectioners sugar
- 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup apricot jam
- In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and confectioners sugar. Add egg and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients and beat just until dough comes together. Stir in basil. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour.
- Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle middle positions and preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut out cookies and transfer them to prepared baking sheets. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- When cookies are cool, layer bottom side of one cookie with 1/4- to 1/2-teaspoon jam. Top with a second cookie. Repeat to form remaining sandwiches.
- Let chill for 24 hours, eat cold (this is key)