Allison's Honeyed Almond-Cherry Shortbread

Okay...can you say, "divine"?  Yep...these cookies are just that.  They are so earthy but complex at the same time.  Shortbread with bits of honeyed almonds and cherries macerated in marsala.  Good bye diet!!!  No, not really goodbye, just turn your head while I take a bite.  These really are one of my new found favorite cookies and they bring some bright fruity flavors into my holiday cookie mix.  Yum!!!  The best thing about these is that the dough can be made a few months in advance and then frozen.  Just bring the dough to room temperature before you slice it.

This is a Martha Stewart Recipe, not really modified.  The original recipe macerates the cherries in sherry, I simply didn't have it and I wasn't going to the store for two tablespoons of sherry.  Instead of sherry, I had a very nice bottle of marsala, so I used that.  They were fantastic.  I never have great luck with the Martha recipes, there is always something a little off about them, they never turn out perfect.  This one, you really have to watch the cooking time.  These burn easily at this cooking temperature, or maybe my oven is just a bit hot and eager to get the job done.  Just don't get distracted or walk away, they burn when you are not looking!!!

Martha Stewart 

For the Cookie Dough:
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt

For the Honeyed Almonds:
1/2 cup honey (I used our own...makes it a little special)
1 ounce (2 tbsp) unsalted butter
2 cups lightly toasted sliced almonds (my second batch I tried chopped almonds and it turned out just as well)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Macerated Cherries:
1 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
2 tbsp dry sherry (or marsala or Grand Marnier)
1 tbsp finely grated tangerine or orange zest


Prepare the macerated cherries: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, and toss to combine.  Let stand for an hour, stirring occasionally. 

Make the honeyed almonds: Cook honey and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and deep amber, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and spread on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Let cool, about 30 minutes, then coarsely chop.  (I could eat the nuts just like this and be oh, so happy...forget the cookie dough...)

Make the dough: Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the macerated cherries, and mix until just combined.  Add the flour and salt, and mix until dough just comes together, about 1 minute.  Add the honeyed almonds, and mix until just combined.  

Turn out dough onto a piece of parchment, and form into 2 1/2-by-16-inch rectangular log; wrap in parchment.  Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to 2 days (dough can be frozen for 3 months).  Cut dough into 1/4-inch slices, and arrange on parchment lined baking sheets.  Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Bake until cookies are golden and set, 30 to 35 minutes.  Let cool completely on baking sheets.  


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