Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brown Sugar Almond Shortbread

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The cookie season is quite over, but my oven doesn't know that because I can't seem to let go of these wonderful cookies. You'd think that there aren't very many ways to play with such a humble cookie as shortbread - you would be very wrong, and Dorie, whose recipe this is, hits the jackpot as usual.

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The substitution of brown sugar for regular sugar gives these cookies an extra layer of depth, a kind of subtle scent and sweetness that enhances the extra crunch created by the addition of ground nuts. Mmm... crumbly, buttery, delicious shortbread with layers of underlying flavor. Can you tell I'm slightly in love with this recipe? Not only did I include it in my gift boxes this holiday season, I've made it several times after and I've bored my friends to tears by waxing poetic about the sheer genius of this cookie. Unfortunately, I have a feeling they only listened to me because I kept up a constant supply of shortbread! :)

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Brown Sugar Almond Shortbread
Adapted slightly from Baking, Dorie Greenspan

*A few notes: (1) The original recipe called for ground pecans, but as I had none at the time, I substituted ground almonds instead - it worked really well, but I'm dying to make these with pecans; and (2) The recipe calls for an 18-20 minute baking time - I found that this was way too long and the cookies browned too much and lost flavor. I baked mine for about 12-13 minutes, just until crunchy and pale golden.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground cloves
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt and cloves.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Add the almond and give the mixer a couple of turns, just to get the nuts into the dough.

Using a rubber spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9×10-1/2-inch rectangle that’s 1/4-inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets wiht parchment or silicone mats.

Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1-1/2 inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet. [I would also freeze each sheet for about 15 minutes before baking to stop the cookies from spreading. I did that with mine and they hardly spread].

Bake for 18-20 minutes [my time was 12-13 minutes], rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale – they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.

Yield: 32 cookies

35 comments:

Elra said...

Oh, I love shortbread. I am sure I am going to love this one, especially has almond in it.

Claire (Culinarygoddess.com) said...

such beautiful pictures, sounds delicious

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

Photos are gorgeous and that shortbread,,,oh my.

♥peachkins♥ said...

Perfect with a cup of coffee

Ash said...

how lovely. I love how you packaged these little babies up! .. and who can't resist shortbread?

Manggy said...

Well, that's one way to keep your friends (and, if you bake as often as we do, keep your figure... heh heh) :) I too love brown sugar in an extraordinary way :)

Jennifer said...

Those sound really good, I love ground almonds. Now in your recipe when you call for 1/2 cup ground almonds, is that measured before or after grinding?

Irene said...

Sorry, should have specified - it's 1/2 cup after grinding. :)

Rambling Tart said...

Mmm, these are so cute and I love the addition of ground almonds. Wonderful!

symphonious sweets said...

Delightful!

Su-yin said...

These look yummy, love the fact that there are nuts in it. Thanks for sharing the recipe. :)

small home plans said...

This is a great idea! I really like giving food as presents to my friends.

Barbara said...

Those look wonderful and I love the adorable way you wrapped them! I could use some of those for after dinner tonight. Pass the plate, please!

The Caked Crusader said...

Lovely biscuits and your presentation is gorgeous - how clever to use cupcake wrappers in that way!

my little expat kitchen said...

Hi! This is my first visit to your blog and I'm very happy I found it. Your recipes look delicious and I love your photos.
Magda

All Recipes said...

Shortbread almond :)

Yummy

Juliana said...

Wow, nice shortbread cookies, like the idea of using brown sugar and almond...must taste delightful :-)

El said...

Irene, I love, love, love the top picture. It should be on the cover of a magazine. And the recipe looks amazing. Thanks for sharing.

NuJoi said...

I'm still making butter cookies, so I understand how a good recipe will take you well pasted the season. I'm adding these to my list. Thanks!

Kitchen M said...

beautiful lighting. and of course yummy looking cookies! :)

smilinggreenmom said...

Mmm - I can only imagine how incredible this must be! We have a nut alelrgy in our home though so I think I will have to figure out what I can substitute for the almonds? I cannot wait to give this a try - especially using Kamut Khorasan Wheat flour for added yumminess! Thanks for sharing this must make :)

dj said...

wonderful photography, presentation and recipe. love the texture of all. look forward to trying it!

Jane said...

Hello Irene! I am a huge fan of brown sugar shortbread. Your variation sounds delightful. Beautiful photos, as always!

Katie said...

They look delicious and I love the idea of adding cloves. Quite an underused spice.

Peabody said...

Those are gorgeous, I love that first photo.

my spatula said...

simply beautiful! i never knew shortbread could look so pretty.

Cherine said...

I love your shortbread!!

Junglefrog said...

They sure look delicious and I would forgive you too for talking about the cookies forever if you would just bring a basket of these beauties... ;)

vickys said...

I;m obsessed with all the lovely things on your blog! I just spent my lunch hour wishing I was eating the food you have rather than the one sitting on my table.

Recipe man said...

I love shortbread! yummy.
and im sure im going to love this recipe aswell

delightfullysweet said...

Gorgeous photos!
I love how you packaged them all up!

June said...

Shortbread is my very favorite kind of cookie. I just found your blog, and I really enjoy your writing style. I am looking forward to trying some of your recipes. Could I subscribe to this blog with just my email address? Thanks.

June said...

I forgot to say I also love your photography. What else can I say? I'm smitten! Looking forward to many more recipes.


junecutie

Irene said...

Hi June! Sorry to take so long to get back to you. I was figuring out the subscription thing, and hey, yes, you can now subscribe to the updates to this blog via email! Just got to the home page and enter your email address into the box on the right hand side, click subscribe and that's it. Thanks for bringing this up, I didn't even realize that people could subscribe via email! (And this is after two years of blogging... *hangs head in shame* ;)).

The Urban Baker said...

love these photos! the cookies aren't so bad either.