Sunday, December 21, 2008

Almond Shortbread Stars

This is my last cookie post for the Holiday season. It is also one of first ones I ever made, and still gets included year after year. I found the recipe in the Martha Stewart Living magazine special issue, titled *Holiday Cookies*, published in 2001.
A few reasons I make them every year....I love the festive look of these little white powder coated stars. The almond flavor is delicious. They are super easy to make & can be made ahead of time! Something essential while baking as many cookies as I do.

Begin by pureeing a 1/2 cup of whole blanched almonds in a food processor.

Add to a mixing bowl, along with 1 cup of sugar. Measure 4 cups of flour & 1/2 teaspoon salt in a separate bowl & whisk. Set aside.

Add 2 sticks of unsalted butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until light & fluffy.

Pour in the sugar/almond mixture & beat until combined. Scrape down the sides as necessary. Add 1 teaspoon of almond extract & beat again.

Add the flour/salt mixture & mix until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and separate the dough into 2 balls. Form them both into discs & refrigerate for at least 1 hour. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the dough from the fridge & let it sit out to soften long enough to roll....about 15 minutes. Roll the dough out to a 1/4" thickness.

Cut out the star shapes & place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edge of the stars are just starting to turn golden. Remove onto a cooling rack.

When cool enough to handle, toss the cookies in powdered sugar.
These cookies are very buttery & they will soak up lots of sugar. It may be necessary to toss them in sugar again before serving.

Almond Shortbread Stars

Adapted from Martha Stewart: Holiday Cookies Magazine, December 2001
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
powdered sugar, for dusting cookies

Place the blanched almonds in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the steel blade attachment & pulse until finely chopped. Whisk the flour & salt together in a mixing bowl & set aside.
Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until light & fluffy. Add the almonds & sugar. Blend until combined, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Add the almond extract & beat. Add the
flour mixture & beat until just incorporated. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface & divide in half. Shape each half into a disc, wrap in plastic & chill for at least one hour.
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Roll the dough out on a floured work surface to a 1/4" thickness. Cut out shapes using a star shaped cookie cutter. Lay the cookies out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Cool on a wire rack. Once cool, toss in powdered sugar & serve.
Note: These cookies can stored in an airtight container for about a week.
Click here for the printable recipe.


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