While I love all things food, what really nails it for me is baking. I am always in awe at the evolution of a fanciful treat arising from just a handful of ingredients. Butter, flour, sugar, eggs. These are the beginnings of something wonderful. I recall watching a video clip recently of Dorie Greenspan, famed writer and owner of Buerre and Sel, as she spoke with pure exuberance about the wonder of such simple things as these. If you have two minutes to spare, click here: http://doriegreenspan.com/2013/09/post-11.html.
Dorie is simply adorable. As I was watching her speak to her love of baking, I found myself thinking that this woman and I must be psychically linked. Her passion for baking, for sharing her food is astoundingly similar to mine; her words echoed my own thoughts about baking. I was awestruck.
As I’ve written before, I often find myself in the kitchen wanting a little bit of sweetness, and not wanting one bit to venture out again for ingredients. I’d had a mind for shortbread ever since I’d enjoyed a nibble of a colleague’s vanilla shortbread earlier in the day. I was craving that richness, that simplicity. Of course, I thought I could do something a bit more lustrous. What came through was this: an almond shortbread, rich with flavors of caramel and not a bit too sweet. I added a touch of cinnamon, just to give the flavor a boost, however it might be nice with a bit of orange zest as well. Perhaps I’ll try that with the next batch, as this is sure to be a repeat.
Go on. Put your feet up with a mug of earl grey and a couple of these babies. You won’t regret it.
Almond and Brown Sugar Shortbread
(Makes almost two dozen cookies)
1 c. unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for ~1 hour
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp almond extract
2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c thinly sliced almonds
Egg white, for brushing the tops
Sanding sugar (optional)
2-inch round biscuit cutter
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
- In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar 2-3 mins until light and fluffy, scraping down sides once or twice to ensure all sugar is incorporated
- Add almond extract
- Combine flour, salt and cinnamon. Add to butter/sugar mixture in two parts, mixing well until combined.
- Remove from mixer and shape into a disk. Allow to rest for ~20 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Remove and roll to ~1/2 inch thickness.
- Using a 2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut disks from dough and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place tray in refrigerator while working on second batch.
- Lightly brush tops of dough with egg white; sprinkle on almonds and sanding sugar, if using.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until golden and the almonds are toasted, rotating about halfway through
- Cool on baking sheet.
Enjoy, and much love,