Nashville Butterscotch Cornmeal Cookies

by Min Merrell
Nashville Butterscotch Cornmeal Cookies

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OMG Nashville Butterscotch Cornmeal Cookies!  

It’s been years since I worked with Martha White, the iconic southern flour and cornmeal company, and I still can’t shake my obsession to include self-rising flour and self-rising cornmeal in recipes way beyond biscuits and cornbread. I’m especially intrigued by combining self-rising with non-leavened flours and meals, so the end result is a baked good with just the right amount of leavening. In other words, I have an aversion to measuring out baking powder.

A couple of years ago I was playing around with a cornmeal sugar cookie that combines all-purpose flour with self-rising cornmeal mix. I had no idea that the result, my Nashville Cornmeal Cookies, would cause such a stir among friends and family. Since then, I’ve made this cookie more than any other cookie (times ten) as it quickly topped my signature recipe list. R.B. regularly requests batches to ship to friends and family. I always serve them at parties and bring them to dinners and events.

These workhorse cookies are great travelers and won’t easily crumble and fall apart. In fact, I think they taste better a day or two after baking, so no last minute prep is necessary. They have incredible crunch with a salty sweet finish and no one can ever eat just one. Friends watching their weight immediately groan when I prance in with a platter because there is no willpower strong enough to resist them.

I’ll be bringing my famous Nashville Cornmeal Cookies to the Dirty Pages event at Casa Azafran on Saturday, May 2. Dirty Pages, Nashville Women and Their Recipes that Tell Their Stories, is the brainchild of three Nashville food writers — Erin Murray, Jennifer Justus, and Cindy Wall. Dirty Pages began with a March 2015 exhibit at the Nashville Farmers Market featuring photos and stories celebrating the shared and passed-down food memories and the abundant variety of food traditions of Nashville women.

The sweet name refers to the dirty pages we all have in our recipe files and cookbooks that are clearly the best loved and most used recipes. I love my grandmother’s old recipe files and often wonder what it is about a recipe that appeals to someone at any given time. Her’s are filled with New Mexico-style casseroles like Frito Pie and lots of quick breads, banana pudding, and Coconut Impossible Pie.

My cornmeal cookie recipe wasn’t passed on to me, but I’ll be passing it on in hopes that it becomes a dirty page in someone else’s recipe file. That would be the ultimate compliment.

Dirty Pages at Casa Azafran, 2195 Nolensville Road, Nashville, May 2, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., is open to the public. Bring your own dirty pages and share some snacks and stories with some of the participants. You can tour the Conexion Americas Mesa Komal kitchen and take part in the Dirty Pages photo booth.  

Last Christmas I developed a holiday poppy seed variation of the cornmeal cookie, and now here’s butterscotch, R.B.’s new favorite. The fabulous Scrafft’s butterscotch cookie that obsessed editor Judith Jones and her pal James Beard is the inspiration. Here’s my variation of that spectacular bit of baking.  

Nashville Butterscotch Cornmeal Cookies contain Schrafft’s two essential ingredients–dark brown sugar and dry milk powder. In combination with plenty of butter, these ingredients are the secret behind incredible butterscotch flavor and aroma. Now, add self-rising cornmeal mix for just enough mysterious grit. More variations are on the way, no doubt. I’m not stopping here. 

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