01 July, 2012

Almond Shortbread with Cookbook Sunday's

As you may know I made a little trip back to the states last week and while I was there I raided my mom's shelves.  I discovered my first cookbook, it was MINE all MINE and it had my name in it.  I used it religiously.  My mom would take kids from our neighborhood on fun trips in the summer like to Water World or Six Flags and I would help raise money for the kids who could not afford to go on the trips.  I had bake sales two or three times a week, and my little cookbook was the star of the show.  If I missed one weekend kids would be knocking at the door asking if there were going to be any treats for sale and I would have to rush to the kitchen and whip something up fast!  My little cookbook is splattered and frayed, coming apart at the binding...but the cookie recipes are still easy, fun and quick.  We enjoyed our Almond Shortbread with Mocha Almond Fudge Ice cream last night.  Delicious!

Throw back to 1993 with Sunset Best Kids Cookie Book

Simply Almond Shortbread
1 1/2 cups butter; at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour

1). Preheat oven to 325*F

2). Place butter, sugar, 1 cup of almonds, and almond extract in bowl and beat with electric mixer until blended.  Add flour and beat until well blended.  Use utility spoon to spoon dough into ungreased baking pan (10" x 15"); scrape out bowl with spatula.  Press dough evenly into pan; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup almonds and pres them lightly into dough.  Bake for 25 minutes, until light golden.  Turn off oven and use mitts to remove pan to rack.

3).  Immediately use butter knife to cut shortbread into 15 squares, each about 3 inches on each side.  Then cut each square diagonally in half to form 2 triangles.  Let cool in pan.

Makes 30 cookies.

Tips and tricks that I have learned over the years:
*  Add Vanilla!  Vanilla Bean if you can but at least a good dose of Vanilla Extract.
*  Leave the butter cubed and chilled and mix it in with your hands instead of a blender.  The dough will be super crumbly, but just think of it as pastry dough.
*  I like to either chop really fine or completely pulverize the Almonds that go inside of the dough so you don't have shards of almonds sticking up through the dough.
*  As I said this dough is crumbly, it is best to dump it into a pan, even it out a little bit with damp finger tips and then sprinkle with Almonds and cover with Plastic Wrap.  Then you can easily press the dough into the pan.
*  A pizza cutter works great when cutting out the cookies!  The Almonds on top make it nearly impossible to slide a knife through  the cookie, the almonds drag and destroy the whole top.
*  When you pull out the dough and slice them the cookies will look really crumbly, like if you touch them they will just crumble away to nothing.  Don't worry!  Use a little bit of self control and leave them in the pan to cool (nearly impossible to do as they smell divine!).  They will harden as they cool but still remain nice and flaky.

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