Almond

Lemon Almond Cornmeal Diamonds

January 16, 2012
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Loving citrus as I do, I prefer it not as a whisper, but as a robust brightness. In looking for a way to achieve that without the use of lemon oil, I developed this technique of pureeing sugar with lemon zest until wet. In addition, I prefer cookies that are moist and have some texture. This recipe, inspired by the work of Betty Fussell and Carol Field, makes cookies that are grainy with cornmeal and ground almonds,very lemony and unusually moist for a cornmeal shortbread type cookie. —LE BEC FIN

Test Kitchen Notes

These coarse cookies are crumbly and moist at the same time. The bright lemony flavor is complemented by the almond extract, a favorite around these parts. Grinding the lemon zest with the sugar really enhances the citrus flavor. These are easy to throw together and take no time to cook -- our diamonds were finished cooking in 20 minutes. We liked these so much we finished them off right after they cooled. —The Editors

  • Makes 1 9 inch square pan
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unskinned raw almonds, ground fine and divided in half
  • 1/4 cup grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely ground fresh yellow cornmeal *
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and frozen
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar for topping
  • 1/2 cup reserved ground almonds for topping
  • 4 ounces raw pine nuts
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Butter or Pam 1 9" square metal pan.
  2. In small processor, grind 1/2 cup sugar with lemon zest, scraping down the sides a few times, until pureed and wet but not soupy( This method really extracts a lot of lemon flavor.)
  3. Into a standard food processor, combine the ½ cup of almonds, flour, cornmeal and salt. Pulse twice to combine. Add butter. Pulse until butter is pea sized, as if making piecrust.
  4. Combine eggs through almond extract, add to processor along with sugar lemon zest mixture, and pulse til barely mixed. Press into pan, smoothing top with graduated cake spatula.
  5. Score mixture lightly into 2 inch tall diamonds, and put a pine nut in the center of each diamond, pressing down to adhere. For topping, combine 1/2 cup ground almonds with 2 Tablespoons of sugar, and mix well. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the pan. Press down to adhere.
  6. Bake 350 degrees F, 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean. Cool , chill til firm, and cut into diamonds. (If you try cutting before it chills, mixture will crumble.)
  7. * Fresh bulk yellow cornmeal or packaged organic cornmeal is far preferable in flavor to prepackaged supermarket cornmeal.
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Review
I am always on the lookout for innovative recipes, which is why I am just ga-ga over my recently- discovered Food52 with its amazingly innovative and talented contributors. My particular eating passions are Japanese, Indian, Mexican; with Italian and French following close behind. Turkish/Arabic/Mediterranean cuisines are my latest culinary fascination. My desert island ABCs are actually 4 Cs: citrus, cumin, cilantro, and cardamom. I am also finally indulging in learning about food history; it gives me no end of delight to learn how and when globe artichokes came to the U.S., and how and when Jerusalem artichokes went from North America to Europe. And that the Americas enabled other cuisines to become glorious. I mean where would those countries be without: Corn, Tomatoes, Chiles,Peanuts, Dried Beans, Pecans, Jerusalem Artichokes??! While I am an omnivore, I am, perhaps more than anything, fascinated by the the world of carbohydrates, particularly the innovative diversity of uses for beans, lentils and grains in South Indian and other cuisines. Baking gives me much pleasure, and of all the things I wish would change in American food, it is that we would develop an appreciation for sweet foods that are not cloyingly sweet, and that contain more multigrains. (Wouldn't it be fantastic to have a country of great bakeries instead of the drek that we have in the U.S.?!) I am so excited by the level of sophistication that I see on Food52 and hope to contribute recipes that will inspire you like yours do me. I would like to ask a favor of all who do try a recipe of mine > Would you plse write me and tell me truthfully how it worked for you and/or how you think it would be better? I know many times we feel that we don't want to hurt someone's feelings, but. i really do want your honest feedback because it can only help me improve the recipe.Thanks so much.