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Friday
Jan062012

Vanilla Almond Shortbread Cookies

My parents are the champions of homemade gifts.  Each year, we are surprised by incredibly thoughtful and creative gifts that they make.  For example, the pencil holder my Mom made me after my first Ironman sits on my desk at work and I am reminded of her and the event every day.  My Dad made me a beautiful wooden cutting board last year that I use almost every day and have posted about before.  My craftiness is limited to making cards.... am I really their daughter?

This year I decided to tap into the one other "homemade" thing I can do - bake.  My Dad loves shortbread, so instead of buying him Walker's shortbread for his stocking, I made shortbread from my new favorite cookbook - The Grand Central Baking Book.  This Vanilla Almond Shortbread is simple and tastes just like a classic shortbread should taste.  It would be easy to roll out and cut into a cute shape (say, a heart for Valentine's Day?) and doesn't crumble easily so works well for gifting.

Vanilla Almond Shortbread Cookies
From The Grand Central Baking Book
Yield = 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) freshly ground almonds (not almond meal)
2/3 cup (2.75 ounces) confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation
1.  Measure the flour, confectioner's sugar, almonds, and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine.

2.  Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. 

3.  Reduce the mixer speed to low, then add the vanilla and the dry ingredients and mix just until the dry ingredients disappear into the dough.

4.  Shape the dough into two logs.  To do this, first use a bench knife or sturdy spatula to divide the dough in half.  Place each half on a 12- to 14-inch length of parchment paper, waxed paper, or plastic wrap.  Smooth and pat the dough into a rectangle by flattening the top and sides with your hands.  Then use the paper to help roll and shape the dough into logs 2 inches in diameter and about 10 inches long.  Twist the ends of the paper to seal the log, then refrigerate the dough until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days (or freeze for up to 3 months).  If you are using previously frozen dough, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator.

5.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

6.  Slice the cookies 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and place them about 1 inch apart, in 3 by 4 rows, on the prepared pans.  Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.  The cookies are ready when they begin to brown at the edges.

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Reader Comments (11)

I can attest to their yumminess - they didn't last long despite my rationing consumption to no more than two per day. Your homemade treats are always welcome in exchange for whatever you want made. Can't wait 'til next year's stocking!

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDad

Yum, these cookies look amazing. When I first looked, I thought they were the Dorie Greenspan cracker/cookie canapé thing she's doing — have you seen those? I want to make every single one. These look perfect for Valentine's Day. Yum!

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterali

Inexperienced baker here... I've never made shortbread and would like to try. If I don't have a stand mixer w/ a paddle attachment, would you recommend using a regular electric mixer, or mixing by hand w/ a spatula (or something else) for a few minutes?
p.s. I love your blog- content and design. As I said, I don't bake too much, but I cook dinner almost every night and love seeing your recommended dishes. We loved the kale and pear salad so much that we made it for our family's Thanksgiving spread. Thanks!

January 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Amy, thanks so much for stopping by and for leaving such a sweet comment. I really appreciate it! I made these cookies again last night (from dough I had frozen) and was reminded of how tasty they are -- I hope you make them and enjoy them.

If you don't have a stand mixer, definitely use a regular electric mixer. The butter really needs to be beaten until smooth (step 2 above) and I think the electric mixer is the best way to go. I am sure this could be done by hand as well, but your arm would just be really tired! Please let me know if you make these and whether you like them.

And thanks again for stopping by and for the comment!

January 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterDarcy Eden

I live in Alaska now where it's cokd & very dry. I've beaten the butter but there's no way the dry mix is going to blend w/o liquid. Is that going to ruin the cookie?

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelody Martinez

I live in Alaska now where it's cokd & very dry. I've beaten the butter but there's no way the dry mix is going to blend w/o liquid. Is that going to ruin the cookie?

December 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelody Martinez

Melody - I am so sorry to hear you are having trouble with these! Let's see... I'm thinking you might want to just increase the liquid ingredients, which really would just be adding more butter. I'd try adding 1 tbsp and seeing if that helps. You could add an egg, but I don't know what that will do to the texture. Or maybe a little bit of milk/cream until the dough comes together? I'm sorry I can't offer a specific suggestion but let me know if any of these works for you!

December 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterDarcy Eden

Actually, I was pre-panicking and they turned great! I successfully made & ate them ALL this weekend. I'm sure I gained 20 lbs thanks to you..it's your fault!! lol lol jk. They are fantastic cookies!!!

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelody

Melody, so happy to hear that everything worked out and that you liked the cookies! You've reminded me that I need to make these again for my Dad for Christmas! Happy Holidays!

December 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterDarcy Eden

Hi there,
Just stumbled on your blog this morning and now have a batch of these in the fridge ready to bake over the holiday period. thanks for sharing, can't wait to try these :)
Happy holiday!
Hugs Sally x

December 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSally

Sally, I hope you love the shortbread! Have a wonderful holiday season.

December 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterDarcy Eden

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