There can never be too many recipes for shortbread, whether for holiday baking or "just because" baking. That "just because" moment could be a for teatime treat, a gift for a friend, or to finish a dinner party.
I like the simplicity of mixing the dough in a bowl by hand for some unplugged time in the kitchen. All you really need to do is press it into a pie or tart pan, chill it, and bake it. You could even let it chill (covered) overnight, or longer, before baking – something I often do during the holidays when I'm making lots of cookies.
You could also make a double or even triple batch of these and bake them in separate pans.
The recipe below is for plain almond shortbread cookies, but the recipe very forgiving, so feel free to play around with it. Sometimes I make it with brown sugar, sometimes with finely chopped and toasted pecans, sometimes with walnuts.
I like to change it up frequently -- the main point is just to make it!
Almond Shortbread Cookies
- Butter, for the baking pan
- 1 stick (4 ounces, 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch slices, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (148g) sugar
- 1 cup (120g) flour
- 1/2 cup (56g) cornstarch
- 1/2 cup (48g) almond flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- Powdered sugar (for sprinkling)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF:
Generously butter a 9-inch pie pan, or a tart pan with a removable rim.
Mix the dough:
In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to stir the butter and sugar until creamy.
Stir in the flour, cornstarch, almond flour and salt. Mix until combined. Stir in the vanilla and milk. Knead with your hands if necessary; the dough will come together in big clumps.
Alternatively, use a stand mixer with a beater attachment to mix the dough. Once you've added the vanilla and milk, beat on low speed just until the dough comes together.
Press the dough into the pan:
Scrape the dough into the pan and press into an even layer into the bottom of the pan (it should not go up the sides).
Cover the bottom of a 1-cup dry measuring cup with a piece of plastic wrap and use it to smooth the dough evenly in the pan.
Cut the dough into wedges and chill:
With a paring knife, cut the dough into 12 or 16 wedges. Scatter the sliced almonds over the top and press them gently into the dough. Chill for 30 minutes, until firm, or up to 2 days. (If chilling overnight or longer, cover the pan with plastic wrap.)
Bake the shortbread:
Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.
Cover loosely with foil and continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the dough feels firm and looks golden.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. While the shortbread is still warm, carefully cut the wedges again to make sure they're separated. Leave in the pan until completely cool.
Store the shortbread:
Store the shortbread in an airtight tin for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar before serving, if you like.