I am very much in a holiday mood, and this is my first recipe in the holiday cookie series that I will be posting over the course of the next 2 weeks. This is a classic Christmas almond shortbread cookie that everybody should try at least once in their lifetime. Because, first, the recipe is so easy! And, second, almonds are great in cookies, and their flavor is even more amplified in this recipe by the addition of a small amount of Amaretto, a sweet almond flavored liquor. Amaretto….. Just give me any excuse to use it and I will. It’s one of my favorite liquors but it doesn’t feel proper to drink it straight out of the bottle, so I am always searching for ways to incorporate it in not so obvious way.
I’ve used Martha Stewart’s recipe, where I substituted almond extract with Amaretto and omitted orange zest. These 2 changes made the cookies even more “almond-y”, which is exactly what I wanted! The sliced almonds in the cookies give them a very nice crunch. Feel free to halve the recipe or double it. First time I made these I actually halved the recipe to make sure I liked it, and the cookies came out perfect.
This cookie dough keeps very well frozen in the freezer, and you can make several smaller logs, so that each time you want to bake cookies, you just take out one log of cookie dough and slice it. The cookies themselves, once baked, can be stored in an air-tight container for a month. My husband and I have been eating these cookies for 2 weeks, and what a pleasure that was!
Almond shortbread cookies with Amaretto
This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart.
Prep time: 35 min
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon amaretto liquor
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted or aerated – see my note below!)
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
Makes 40 cookies.
Important note about properly measuring flour using measuring cups:
The proper way to measure flour using measuring cups is to aerate it first. This is done either by sifting flour, or aerating it by fluffing it up and whisking it well, then spooning it into the measuring cup, then carefully removing any excess flour with a knife. If you just stick that measuring cup in the bag of flour and scoop some out, you will get a lot more flour than what the recipe calls for. Do aerate the flour, or you will end up with dry dough!
1) In a large mixing bowl, using mixer, beat butter, sugar, amaretto, salt until smooth and creamy.
2) With mixer on low speed, add flour and mix until dough forms.
3) Using rubber spatula, mix in almonds.
4) Form dough into a rectangular log (or 2 rectangular logs). Wrap each log in plastic wrap. Once the log is wrapped in plastic wrap, it is easier to continue shaping it as a more perfectly shaped rectangular log. Freeze the log for 40 minutes in freezer, then 20 minutes in refrigerator.
5) Preheat oven to 325. Using sharp knife, cut dough into 1/4 inch thick slices, place them on un-greased baking sheet 1 inch apart. Bake until edges are golden, about 12 minutes.
6) Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.