I’m determined to bring you some excellent cookie recipes this holiday season, dear readers. In fact, I’m on a cookie mission. I’ve got cookie recipes scattered around my office, around my kitchen, and sticking out from my printer.
Baking was my first love (I didn’t start cooking seriously until about 10 years later), and the excitement I feel when I get to haul my red KitchenAid stand mixer off the shelf probably borders on insanity. But that doesn’t matter, because my friends and family (and soon Doug’s office mates) get to enjoy all the spoils of my cookie-making success—never mind that they often complain about how they haven’t been going to gym so they shouldn’t be eating the stuff 🙂 I, on the other hand, have been hitting the gym pretty regularly. It’s all part of my evil plot to get skinny while everyone else puts on the pounds. Ha!
First up in this year’s cookie lineup is a serious cookie classic, one that should remind us all of those wonderfully simple shortbread cookies (aka Trefoils) from the Girl Scouts of America. (By the way, if any of you has a Girl Scout in the family and you’re in Cincy/Northern Kentucky, I’d be VERY happy to purchase some cookies from you as soon as they’re available. I’ve missed out the past few years and it’s heartbreaking—at least for my stomach.)
I took the recipe from my handy dandy copy of Professional Baking and modified it by adding some almond extract to make these cookies super fragrant and holiday-erific! (Yes, I just made that up.) You can eat them plain, like Doug does, or top them with a basic icing made of confectioner’s sugar, milk, a little almond extract, and food coloring if you’d like to add some pizazz to your shortbread—my favorite way to go.
Shortbread is a rolled cookie, meaning that the cookie dough must be chilled and then rolled out and cut with cookie cutters. You then take the dough scraps, roll them back in to mound, and start the process all over again until you use all the dough. If the dough gets too warm, stick it back in the fridge or freezer for awhile to make it easier to work with. I also like to stick to one cookie cutter shape to make things a bit easier on myself. No matter what shape you decide to go with, you know these rich almond shortbread cookies are going to be a winner.
One Year Ago: Cookie Exchange! Homemade Holiday Oreos
Rich Almond Shortbread
Recipe adapted from Professional Baking. You can always sub in vanilla for almond if you’re not a fan. If you love to bake, I suggest getting a scale like this one so all of your measurements are accurate. Click here to download a printable PDF copy of this recipe.
12 ounces unsalted butter
8 ounces white sugar
¾ tsp. fine salt
4 ounces egg yolks
1 tsp. almond extract
8 ounces (½ lb) all-purpose flour
8 ounces (½ lb) cake flour
Powdered sugar, for rolling out the cookies
Make the cookie dough. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Beat the mixture on medium-low until it’s smooth, creamy and well combined, about 3-5 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl after every other one or so. Mix in the almond extract. Finally, beat the flour into the dough until well combined. Remove the dough from the stand mixer, form into a flat mound, and wrap it in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Refrigerate the dough until it’s thoroughly chilled, at least an hour and up to overnight.
Shape the cookies. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Remove the dough from the fridge. Sprinkle a cutting board with powdered sugar. Roll out the dough until its ¼-inch thick, which is a bit thicker than for most rolled cookies. If the dough is too hard to work with at first, give it a few thumps with your rolling pin to start the process.
Cut and bake. Cut out the cookies with cookie cutters. Cut the cookies as close together as possible to reduce the quantity of scraps. Place cookies on baking sheets lined with parchment or greased with cooking spray. Bake the cookies in a 350˚ oven for about 15 minutes, being careful not to let them brown too much. Cool completely before decorating.*
*Some décor may be applied before baking. For example, you can brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with colored sugars for colorful shortbread cookies.