Almond-Orange Shortbread

I keep telling myself that I’m going to try making one new dessert per week (Sweet Sundays, maybe?), but I’ve just been too darn busy. Too busy for dessert = no good. I did manage to squeak out some cookies (Almond-Orange Shortbread from the July/August 2006 issue of Everyday Food) before we ran off to Houston for the Radiohead concert this past weekend, though. They’re delish *and* they’re freezer friendly!

To make the dough, I beat 2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temperature), 1 cup of powdered sugar, 3/4 teaspoon of almond extract, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt together in a medium bowl. With the mixer on low speed, I added 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 teaspoons of orange zest and mixed just until a dough formed. I used my hands to incorporate 3/4 cup of sliced almonds.

I laid out a sheet of waxed paper, formed the dough into a log (12 inches long, 2 1/2 inches wide, and 1 inch thick), and wrapped the log in the paper. The dough has to freeze for at least 1 hour to firm up, though you can leave it in the freezer for up to 3 months if you want to slice and bake as needed. (If you’re going to leave the dough in the freezer for an extended period of time, add a layer of plastic wrap over the waxed paper.)

When an hour had passed, I removed the dough from the freezer and placed it on a cutting board. I cut the dough into 1/4-inch-thick slices and placed about 18 on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch between cookies. I baked the cookies at 325F until the edges just began to turn golden (15 minutes, though the recipe said it would take 20 – 25). I cooled them for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transferred them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Almond-Orange Shortbread

Mmmm. These cookies got the stamp of approval from Dr. O, the fabulous ladies in his office, and my brother-in-law. I can’t decide how I like them best, though – baked or as dough slices straight from the freezer. You have to love a delicious egg-free dough!

Like most shortbread, these cookies are crisp and very buttery. The almond and orange zest added wonderful flavor and took the sophistication factor up a notch. These would be absolutely perfect for a baby shower, wedding shower, or other party.

TIPS: If the dough is too cold when you take it out of the freezer, it may crumble. If it’s misbehaving, wait 20 – 30 minutes and try slicing again.

I didn’t rotate my first batch of cookies and a few in the back ended up browning a bit more than I would’ve liked. The second batch turned out much better with a front-to-back rotation after half of the baking time had passed. Also, my edges weren’t quite as nice as the edges in the recipe photo, and I’m wondering if it’s because I lined my baking sheet with parchment. I’m going to try baking them directly on the sheet next time.

Recipe link: Almond-Orange Shortbread

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