This recipe has been in my favorites file for decades. Back when I made bunches of Christmas cookies every year, this was in the mix year after year, and it was a big hit at our recent birthday party. It makes a delicate, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread with a subtle almond flavor.
Don’t be alarmed if you sneak a taste of the dough and it seems a little bland. The shortbread itself is not very sweet, but that is purposely so, to balance out the sweetness of the glaze. If you want to try making these without the glaze, you’ll probably want to double the sugar, at least.
Recipe: Almond Poppy Seed Shortbread
1/2 c. + 2 T. real butter
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3 T. sugar
1 T. poppy seeds
almond glaze (see below)
Take 1/2 c. of butter and soften it slightly; just enough to make it mashable. Mash it with a fork, then sprinkle the almond extract over and mash some more to work the extract through the butter. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and poppy seeds. With a pastry blender, cut in the almond-butter until mixture resembles large crumbs.
Try forming the dough into a ball; if it will not all stick together, cut in another tablespoon of soften butter. Test it again, and keep adding butter a little at a time until all the dough sticks together when pressed into a ball.
Once you have it worked into one large ball, place the dough on a cookie sheet. Because this dough is so buttery, you don’t need to grease the pan or use parchment.
Begin patting the dough out and flatten it. It may crumble apart in places. Just pat them back together.
After it’s patted out, use a rolling pin to smooth the surface more.
As the edges crumble apart, periodically gather and pat them back into the circle.
Use the rolling pin to make the top smooth, and your hands to pat things back together, alternating between the two as needed. Work the dough gently until it’s a circle approximately 8″ in diameter, and 1/2″ thick.
For cutting the pieces, you can just eyeball it, or, if you want very uniform pieces, use a ruler to measure and a toothpick to mark spacing in the dough.
Then use the ruler as a straightedge guide, and a pizza cutter to make the slices. I cut this batch into 16 squares, but you could also cut them into bars or diamonds. You don’t need to separate the squares before baking.
Bake in 325 F oven 25 to 35 minutes, until edges just start to brown.
Remove from oven and slice through again with the pizza cutter, in the same place as your first cuts.
An offset spatula works great for moving these delicate little square cookies.
Let cookies cool completely. Drizzle with almond glaze. (Recipe below.) To avoid the globby drizzles seen on the left here, don’t start your drizzle on top of a cookie. Start the drizzle just a bit off to the side, then when it becomes a thinner, uniform stream, move over the cookie and wave the spoon gently but quickly back and forth as you move along over the cookies.
Ain’t they purty?!
Makes 16 cookies (plus a few scraps!) if cut into 1.5″ squares.
1.5 T. milk
1/4 t. almond extract
1 c. sifted powdered sugar
Combine milk and almond extract. Add to powdered sugar and mix thorough. Add a little more milk if necessary to make of glazing consistency.
This makes enough glaze to cover two batches of dough.