Clover Bites

Once again, shortbread comes through as a versatile treat. One of the things I like most about my shortbread recipe, which is based on one from King Arthur Flour, is that it’s delicious on its own but also so easy to dress up. Add extract of nearly any flavor, toss in some citrus extract, tint your dough a fun color, add sprinkles, drizzle it with chocolate; no matter what you do, you really can’t go wrong.

These clover bites – flavored with almond, tinted green, and sprinkled with green sugar – are on their way to Maryland for my favorite little leprechauns as part of their (slightly belated) St. Patrick’s Day package. Shortbread ships very well because it’s fairy sturdy, but I strongly recommend padding your container with some waxed paper, or even bubble wrap, to prevent breakage.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 5 ounces (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) flour
  • Green gel food coloring
  • Green sugar sprinkles

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and almond extract. Add flour and beat to combine completely, then add enough food coloring to reach your desired shade of green. The dough will be ready when it pulls away from the sides of your mixing bowl, but you may need to knead it a bit with your hands to make sure the food coloring gets distributed evenly.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough and roll into balls, placing about 2 inches apart on your baking sheets. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand and sprinkle with green sugar.

Bake for 25-27 minutes, until edges are set. Remove from oven and cool for about 3 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes about 16 cookies.

Toasted Almond Shortbread

Shortbread is a great holiday treat. It’s easy to bake and easy to embellish, making it a great canvas for fun flavors and decorations. These toasted almond shortbread cookies went to the graphic design team in my office – along with some plain and chocolate versions – as a special thank-you for all they do for me and my team throughout the year.

You’ll want to keep a close eye on your almonds as they toast; nuts can go from toasted to burnt in a matter of seconds. I toast mine in the oven, but I’ve also had success toasting them in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Whatever you decide, the almonds are done when they’re golden brown and very fragrant. As they cool, they’ll make a faint crackling sound – I usually put mine in the freezer for a few minutes to help the cooling process.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 ounces (about 2 1/3 cups) flour
  • About 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2-4 teaspoons water
  • About 1/3 cup flaked almonds, toasted and cooled

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Add flour and beat to combine completely. The dough will be ready when it pulls away from the sides of your mixing bowl.

Divide dough in half and press into the bottom of each cake pan, using the palm of your hand to create an even surface.

Bake for 32-35 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and gently loosen the sides, then allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Gently flip onto a cutting board and slice into 16 wedges, then place wedges on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cookies are cool, make your drizzle: combine powdered sugar, almond extract, and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl, stirring until smooth and adding additional water if necessary; you want a thicker drizzle, so don’t go too far with your liquids. Drizzle over cookies, then top with flaked toasted almonds, gently pressing the nuts into the drizzle so they won’t fall off.

Makes 32.

Almond-Filled Shortbread

almond-filled-shortbreadShortbread filled with almond paste? Yes, it is just as delicious as it sounds.

While experimenting with raspberry-filled shortbread last weekend, I decided to take the advice of the incredibly talented bakers at King Arthur Flour and fill my second shortbread round with almond paste. The result is a sturdier cookie than the jam-filled variety, and now I have to wonder…what would happen if I put both almond paste and jam into the same shortbread round? We’ll save that experiment for another day.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 ounces flour (about 2 1/3 cups; I used a food scale to measure mine)
  • 1 cup almond paste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla, then beat in flour.

Divide dough into four pieces, about 6 ounces each (I’d recommend 5.7 or 5.8 ounces each to divide as evenly as possible).

Place an 8-inch round cake pan upside down on your counter top and cover with plastic wrap. Press one portion of dough onto the plastic wrap, covering the bottom of the pan completely – you’ll need to be careful, as the dough can tear as it stretches. Wrap the circle of dough in the plastic wrap and refrigerate while repeating this step with each remaining portion.

Gently knead your almond paste, then divide it into two portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your paste into a circle about 7 1/2 inches wide.

Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans; remove dough circles from the fridge. Peel plastic wrap off the first circle of dough and press into the bottom of one cake pan; top with almond paste, leaving about 1/2 inch bare border around the edges. Top with another circle of dough and gently press the edges to seal them. Prick all over with a fork all the way through each layer. Repeat with the third and fourth circles of dough in the other pan.

Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and loosen the sides with a knife, then cool in pans for 10 minutes.

Carefully turn the shortbread out onto two cutting boards and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then cut into wedges. I cut mine into 16 wedges each for slimmer slices.

Makes 32 wedges.

Raspberry Almond Shortbread

 

 

 

 

 

Shortbread is a great cookie, and this thumbprint version is very easy to make, despite its somewhat fancy appearance.  The dough is basic; you could probably use any flavor jam or preserves for the thumbprint, and the almond glaze is optional.

Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup seedless raspberry jam
  • Almond glaze (see recipe below)

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Add granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon almond extract and beat until combined.

Beat in flour.

Cover and chill dough for about one-half hour, until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place raspberry jam in a small bowl and stir it slightly to make it easier to spoon.

Shape dough into one-inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about two inches apart.

Use your thumb to make an indentation in the center of each cookie.

Spoon about one-half teaspoon of jam into each indentation, filling it completely.

Bake 10-14 minutes, until edges are light golden brown.

When completely cool, drizzle with almond glaze.

Almond Glaze

Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract

Preparation

In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon water, and almond extract.

Add enough of the remaining water to make a drizzly consistency.

Drizzle over cookies and allow glaze to harden before serving.