Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

This year’s Bake Sale for Beka (aka Cookies for Crohn’s) was a great success, raising $1,680 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Wahoo! Great job and high fives to all the bakers, bloggers & bidders who participated!

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Inside NanaBread's Head

My contribution to this year’s bake sale was these luscious Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies – so buttery and delicious! My winning bidder was Taryn from the Pacific northwest (Seattle area). To my surprise, she bid a whopping $60.00 for four dozen of my shortbreads. Thank you so much, Taryn! I hope you and your friends and family enjoy them!

Now that they’re baked and shipped, I thought I’d share them here so you can make them as well. And trust me – if you love buttery shortbread cookies, dried cherries and pecans, you ARE going to want to make them. This recipe has been doubled so that it makes approximately 5 to 6 dozen cookies, depending on how big you cut them. Mine were approximately 1 1/2″ squares and made 6 dozen.

NanaBread’s Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies
adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book (Classic Buttery Shortbread)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal (almond flour)
1 1/2 cups powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temp
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries
1 1/2 cups whole almonds, toasted
granulated sugar, to sprinkle on top

Pre-heat your oven to 375F. While your butter is softening, spread the flour, almond meal and almonds onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the flour just starts to take on some light color and the almonds are fragrant. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Reduce your oven temperature to 325F.

In a food processor, combine the dried cherries and cooled almonds. Pulse until both are chopped into small chunks. Don’t pulse too long, or you’ll end up with cherry/almond paste. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the toasted flour and almond meal, the powdered sugar, salt and cherry/almond mixture; whisk to combine.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the softened butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy (2-3 minutes). Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla and almond extracts, beating just until combined. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment or a silpat mat. Scrape the dough onto the pan and with lightly floured fingers or a flat spatula, spread the shortbread dough into the pan, working it all the way out to the corners. To get a nice even layer, place waxed or parchment paper on top of the dough and use a rolling pin.

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Pressing Into Pan - Inside NanaBread's Head

If you don’t have a rolling pin, lay some waxed or parchment paper on top of the cookie dough then top with a second cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and press to form a nice even layer. Peel the paper off and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar, then pop the pan in the freezer to chill for 20-30 minutes.

Next, use a bench scraper (my favorite tool) or a metal pancake spatula to score the cookies into squares. I like to hold the bench scraper vertically and press until I feel it hit the bottom of the pan. (Because the bench scraper has a fairly sharp edge, just be sure not to press so hard that you damage your silpat mat!)

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Cutting into Squares - Inside NanaBread's Head

Once the cookies are scored, place the baking sheet into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 40-45 minutes (time may vary depending on how hot your oven gets – each oven is a little different). When the shortbread is firm to the touch in the middle of the pan and the cookies are a light golden brown, they’re done. Remove from the oven and allow then to cool 15-20 minutes, then use your bench scraper or spatula to re-cut the cookies along your score lines.

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Out of the Oven - Inside NanaBread's Head

Once they are completely cool, you can remove them from the pan and layer them with parchment or waxed paper into an air-tight container. These will stay fresh for about 2 weeks at room temperature, or up to one month in your fridge.

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Cut into Squares - Inside NanaBread's Head

Love chocolate? Then why not dip them? For that first Bake Sale glamour shot, I dipped a few cookies in dark chocolate. For Taryn, my winning bake sale bidder, I created a variety pack of white, milk and dark chocolate dipped (1 dozen ea.) as well as one dozen plain so she could enjoy them in their pure just-baked form.

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Dipped in Chocolate - Inside NanaBread's Head

Have mercy – the dark chocolate coated are my personal favorite. What a winning combo! Now I just have to hope they make it to the west coast without all that gorgeous Guittard chocolate melting. I packed them in an insulated lunch cooler with those blue ice freezer packs, so keep your fingers crossed.

Note to Self: Next year, don’t dip anything in chocolate. It’s summer, dummy.

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18 Comments

Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes

18 responses to “Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

  1. Shari

    I’m soooo going to be making these! Very impressed by the ‘toasting’ of the flours! Brilliant. It would be so great to have a ‘printer friendly’ recipe option. -Just sayin’. : )

    • Toasting the flour & almond meal really does add depth of flavor. It’s amazing what a little toasting can do for a cookie. I’ll work on being more printer friendly with the recipes, Shari! (Thanks for the suggestion.)

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe! I’ve been trying to duplicate it ever since I saw your photo of those amazing shortbread cookies. You’ve saved me time, and given me some tips I never would have dreamed of, like toasting the flours!! Karin

    • Hahaha…. sorry to have tortured you, Karin! You’ll have to let me know what you think once you’ve tried them. PS – I highly recommend the dark or semi-sweet dunk. -j

  3. Why have I not been dunking all of my cookies in chocolate?!

  4. Big Sis

    sooooo are there any left?

  5. Pingback: What's Been Happenin' In The Cocina ~ 7/13/13! | Juanita's Cocina

  6. Holy Shortbread! Your photos had me unabashedly drooling all over the place. Dried cherries and dark chocolate were made for each other. I bet the almond flour puts the whole affair over the top.

    • This recipe has all our favorites – dried cherries, chocolate and real butter. #winning Toasting the flour and almond flour really does make a difference. It adds a toasty flavor you just can’t get (without almost burning your cookies). I’m already thinking about making another batch.

      • You totally should. I’m not to proud to admit that my favorite part of the recipe is that it makes an entire half sheet pan. Quantity is as important as quality when it comes to cookies.

  7. Your shortbread cookies are beautiful! I love that they are baked in a jelly roll pan then sliced! So much easier than rolling and cutting before baking! The chocolate dip looks fantastic. I sure hope they made it to their destination looking just as gorgeous as when you packaged them!

    • They actually did! It cost me an arm & a leg to ship, but they made it perfectly. I packed them into a plastic airtight container, put them into one of those thermal picnic coolers with a frozen bluegel pack and shipped them 2-day priority. Such a relief to know they made it intact, but next year I’ll be baking something without a chocolate coating. :)

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