Thursday, December 3, 2009

dn's Double Chocolate Almond Shortbread

Have you started Christmas baking yet? Or are you looking for something new and mouthwatering to bake for the holiday season? Today, I'd like to share one of my favourites!

This recipe is a combination of a whipped shortbread recipe that I have made since childhood and a recipe that I found in a "Kraft What's Cooking" magazine a few years ago. This is a hybrid of those two recipes that I have created and been making for the last few years. It has gotten rave reviews from all who have tried it.

Hope you enjoy it!

dn's Double Chocolate Almond Shortbread

2 cups block margarine (NOT butter), softened
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 cup icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
2 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I generally use Fry's but if you use a higher grade cocoa powder you may want to add a Tablespoon less cocoa or a 1/4 cup more icing sugar to offset the bitterness of the cocoa powder)
8 one ounce squares bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped toasted almonds (Place almonds on microwave safe dish and roast on high power for about 5 minutes, stirring every minutes until desired doneness. Cool to room temp before adding to dough)
Optional garnishes, red cherry pieces, almond pieces or chocolate pieces

Mix flour, cornstarch, icing sugar and cocoa powder together. Cut in margarine. Combine on low speed for a minute or so then gradually increase the speed to medium (about 4 or 5 with Kitchenaid stand mixer). Continue mixing until dough resembles whipped cream. This will take about 10 minutes or so with a Kitchenaid stand mixer or about 15 to 20 minutes with a high quality hand mixer. (Note - if using a hand mixer you may need to stop mixing every few minutes to rest the motor or you may burn it out!)
Turn speed down to low and mix in the chopped chocolate and toasted almonds. Mix in evenly.
Transfer the dough to a 2 quart dish and cover with plastic wrap. Chill dough for one to two hours.
Shape into small balls and place on parchment paper lined pans. (If you try shaping the dough straight out of mixer it is to soft to work with. The dough may be a bit crumbly while cold but the warmth of your hands will quickly warm the dough to be able to shape into small balls.) Flatten slightly and place your choice of garnish in the center of each cookie. (Note: A cookie press does not work well with this recipe due to the chocolate pieces and almonds. Rolling the dough out and cutting with a cookie cutter can overwork the dough and make it even more crumbly. It also looses the "melt in your mouth" quality when baked.)
Bake in 325 F oven for 11 - 12 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE! Let cool for 1 - 2 minutes then carefully transfer the cookies to paper towel covered wired racks to finish cooling.
To freeze: Layer the cookies between paper towels and store in freezer safe container in freezer for up to six months.
Makes about 10 dozen "melt-in-your-mouth" cookies!

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