We first discovered these cookies a few years ago. Rich had signed up for an email Twelve Days of Cookies list from The Food Network. We got some delicious sounding recipes, but I think the almond shortbreads were the only ones we actually made. And of course, we changed the directions right from the beginning. After we made them the first time, we also doubled the original amount of almond extract to heighten the flavor. They are buttery and rich like shortbread should be, with a little extra something from the almonds.
The original recipe called for pressing the whole batch of dough into a pan and then cutting the finished cookie into wedges. Since we mail a lot of our Christmas cookies to relatives in other states, long, fragile wedges weren’t going to cut it. One of us had the brilliant idea to press the dough into muffin cups. We tried both the standard size, and minis and we decided the minis were cuter (and sturdier for mailing). We have never made them as a big cookie, so let me know how you like them if you try them that way.
We usually only make these at Christmas time and we look forward to them all year. I’m not sure why we only make them at Christmas. Part of it is we are so tired of cookies by the time New Year’s rolls around that we make anything but cookies until about St. Patrick’s Day. They also have that mystique around them that only seasonal treats have. But I think we need to break out the almond shortbreads more often – and the Russian teacakes, the gingersnaps and the chocolate doodles… Can you tell I’m not tired of cookies yet?
Almond Shortbread Cookies
Adapted by The Cook’s Life
From The Food Network
Makes 60 cookies
½ cup whole raw almonds
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
14 tablespoons butter (1¾ sticks), cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups all-purpose flour
Special equipment: mini muffin pans or regular muffin pans
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. No need to grease the pans – the dough has enough butter in it to make greasing unnecessary.
Pulse the almonds and 2/3 cup sugar in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse sand. Add butter, vanilla extract, almond extract and salt and pulse until combined. Add flour and pulse until a soft dough forms.
Divide dough among mini or regular muffin cups, using about 2 measuring teaspoons of dough per cup. You can also use a small (size 100) cookie scoop.
Flatten each cookie with your finger – dampen your finger with water if the dough sticks. Sprinkle each cookie lightly with granulated sugar.
Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes, depending on size. The regular muffin tins will take less time since the dough is thinner. When done the cookies will be golden brown on the edges and bottoms, and be just starting to color on the tops.
Cool cookies about 5 minutes for them to firm up before removing them from the pans. Cool to room temperature on racks. These taste best at room temperature, not warm.
Store in a tightly sealed container for about a week, or freeze for longer storage.