Tag Archives: baking recipes

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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It’s time! Bake Sale for Beka time!

Bake Sale logo courtesy of Megan @CountryCleaver

Bake Sale logo courtesy of Megan @CountryCleaver

Update: The Bake Sale for Beka is now closed. I’d like to thank Taryn L. from the Seattle area for placing the winning bid on my Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies – a whopping $60! This year’s Bake Sale raised almost $1,700 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Unbelievable, and completely impossible without the support of our friends, family and bake sale bidders. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping us help Beka reach her goal!

We’ve waited so patiently and it’s finally here! The Bake Sale for Beka, also known as Cookies for Crohn’s, kicks off this morning and I’m so excited to be participating! As I mentioned earlier, I’m donating four dozen Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies dipped in chocolate. What kind of chocolate, you ask? Well, whatever chocolate the winning bidder chooses, of course!

Win my cookies, and you can pick whichever rich Guittard chocolate enrobes them – white, milk or dark. But wait, did you just say you’d pick all three? Well then, place the winning bid on my cookies and tell them you’d like them as a ‘variety pack’ and that’s exactly what you’ll get! I’ll stop at nothing to raise more money for Beka and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America!

To recap – that’s four dozen handmade shortbread cookies chock full of toasted almonds, dried Michigan cherries and real butter, dipped in the chocolate of your choice. Heck, I may even throw in a jar of homemade jam for the lucky winner. It’s insanity! So what are you waiting for? Go bid on these beauties!

Cherry & Almond Shortbreads - Inside NanaBread's Head

To browse the mouth-watering line-up of goodies donated by 35+ food bloggers from across America, visit our hostess with the mostess – Megan at www.countrycleaver.com. Her Bake Sale for Beka post outlines the on-line bidding guidelines and instructions you need to make sure a box of baked goods arrives on YOUR doorstep. You do want fresh-baked cookies on your doorstep, right? So let’s DO this and help put Crohn’s & Colitis in our rear-view mirror.

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Comfort Food: Slab Apple Pie

Sometimes you just need a comfort food, know what I mean? Apple pie does it for me, and this one does it best because it’s so easy to pull together.

NanaBread’s Slab Apple Pie:
One batch of Kirsten’s ‘No Excuses’ Pie Dough (click for the recipe)
8 small or 6 large Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored & sliced thin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water (egg wash)
sugar crystals (or Demerara sugar) for sprinkling on top

To start, mix up the pie dough as directed in the link above. Form the dough into a disc, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and pop it into the freezer to firm up. If this pie dough recipe rings a bell, it’s because it’s my all-time favorite go-to recipe. Kirsten’s pie dough is as billed – no excuses. If you have a food processor and five minutes, you can make amazing homemade pie dough. Thanks, Kirsten!

While the dough is chilling, peel, core and slice the apples and place them in a large non-stick skillet. Add the lemon juice and unsalted butter; cook over medium-high heat until the apples start to brown slightly and the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the applesauce, brown sugar and spices and continue to cook until the mixture is bubbly and the sugar begins to caramelize. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the apples to cool to room temperature.

Once the apple mixture has cooled, remove the pie dough from the freezer. Generously flour your work surface and rolling-pin. Divide the dough (2/3 for the base; 1/3 for the strips on top). Roll the larger portion into a rectangle (the size depends on your baking sheet). I like to place mine on a silicone baking mat to prevent it from sticking and to help the bottom brown more evenly.

Spread the apple mixture evenly across the bottom crust, to within 1 1/2″ of the edge. Roll the remaining dough into a rectangle. If you’re in a hurry, simply place the second rectangle over the apple mixture and cut a few steam vents in the top, then skip to the section below about finishing the edges.

If you really want to get frisky, go for broke and impress your friend and family with a pretty lattice top. You can do it! Cut the second rectangle into 1/3″ to 1/2″ strips – I like to use a yardstick and a pizza cutter to cut even strips. I know, I know… it’s just that I’m all about perfect strips. If you’re not, just eyeball it. If your strips are uneven, you call this Rustic Slab Apple Pie. {wink}

Lay one layer of strips in one direction, about an 1/2″ apart. Fold every other strip back about 2″ and lay your first horizontal strip, then return the folded strips back to their original position. Then switch and do every other vertical line until you’ve worked all the way across the pie.

If you’re starting to panic just reading this, remember you can use the second rectangle as a solid top to your slab pie. Just be sure to cut a dozen or so small steam vents into the top before baking. I’m all about giving you options. Once your top crust is on, trim off the excess so that the edges are aligned, then roll the edges inward until they are touching the edge of the apple pie filling.

To help create perfectly square corners, fold each corner in before you roll the edges. That’s an old sewing trick. Thanks for teaching me to sew, Mom!

You can stop here and have plain edges, and it will look perfectly fine.

Or you can go for broke and flute the edge. You know what they say… “go big or stay home.” Not one to shy away from a fancy-pants pie, I fluted mine. Have a few extra tablespoons of flour nearby; you’ll need it to keep your fingers from sticking to the dough while you crimp those edges.

Once you’re satisfied with your crimped up primped up pie, pop it back in the freezer for at least one hour. Why? Two reasons – 1. it will help create a flakier crust if the butter is frozen when the pie goes into the hot oven, and 2. when you brush the pie with an egg wash before baking, it will prevent the brush from damaging the dough like it would at room temperature.

Once your slab pie is properly frozen, remove it from the freezer and pre-heat your oven to 375F. Whisk one egg with one tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush the entire pie with it making sure to coat all of the exposed pie dough. Then sprinkle with crystallized sugar or Demerara (sugar in the raw).

Bake at 375F for 30 minutes, rotating the pie once after 15 minutes, or until the pie turns a light golden brown all over. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes before serving. That’s the hardest part of this recipe.

I like mine with homemade whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but you can do whatever floats your boat. Want a slice of cheddar on top? Go for it! Looking for an excuse to by a pint of Dulce de Leche Caramel ice cream? Do it! Whatever makes you happy. And that’s what this slab apple pie is all about – making you happy. Isn’t that the goal of all our favorite comfort foods?

Note from NanaBread: this slab pie can be made with almost any thick filling. If you love canned fruit pie filling, just spoon it on and go from there. Or go fresh and try it with an apple/cranberry combo or fresh sliced plums; yum. Go nuts! And if you do, let me know what worked for you. Enjoy!

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