Saturday, December 29, 2012

Shortbread Cookies Extraordinare!

Photo by Rick Starkman

Just before Christmas, photographer Rick Starkman, and I did a photo shoot a bit outside of the norm. We actually shot for Quilt In a Day, an amazing quilting company run by an incredible female entrepreneur who started the firm 30+ years ago, when women's careers limited to nurses, secretaries, and librarians. She was way ahead of her time, but that's a whole different story that I will tell you about later.

Although my Mom did some quilting I never knew much about the craft, which indeed is quite an art form unto itself. Interestingly, there are a number of quilt patterns that relate to food: crab apple, cherry basket, sugar cone, squash blossom, memory fruit, cheese box, pork and beans, and hearts and gizzards (my personal favorite because I think the word "gizzard" is rather funny and it makes people giggle unless they are a chicken farmer).

Quilt In a Day's founder, Eleanor Burns, has written over 100 books detailing quilt patterns. For the most current book, she thought it would be fun to use a photo of the food referenced in the quilt's name along with its recipe on the page facing the quilt pattern. Since I did all the cooking for the shoot, I got to sample all the recipes, and her shortbread cookies, are BY FAR, the best I've ever had, and so simple to make.  They are, most definitely, Shortbread Cookies Extraordinare!

The recipe is courtesy of the Julian Tea Room.

Almond Shortbread Cookies

Yield: Will vary based on size of cookie cutter used

1 pound butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 - 2 teaspoons pure almond extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup almonds, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add almond extract and beat until well mixed. Stir in almonds. Roll between parchment or on a floured board to 1/4-inch thick. Cut dough into shapes.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet or parchment-covered cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Cookies should not brown. Cool on a wire rack.

If you want to decorate the cookies with sugar or sprinkles, decorate before baking. If you choose, you can dust them with powdered sugar when they are cool.

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