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Warning: Scrumptious Almond Shortbread Squares are decadent and addictive

Betty Rosbottom

By Betty Rosbottom

Published Dec. 24, 2014

Warning: Scrumptious Almond Shortbread Squares are decadent and addictive
Decadent and addictive, these little bars, which can be prepared a day ahead, are triple layered. First, a rich crust is patted into a pan and baked until golden. Then a batter of creamed butter, sugar, eggs, flour and ground almonds is added. After baking, this layer is topped with toasted almonds coated in melted butter, sugar and lemon. Cut into small squares, these petite morsels are crowd pleasers that will have your guests reaching for seconds and even thirds!


ALMOND SHORTBREAD SQUARES

Makes:16 squares

Crust:

  • 1 cup flour

  • 3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and diced, plus extra for greasing baking pan

Filling:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar

  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk

  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

  • 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted and ground to a coarse powder (See note.)

  • 3 tablespoons flour

. Topping:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar plus extra for dusting squares

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons grated lemon zest

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons lemon juice

  • 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted, divided (see note)

Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 375 F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.

For crust, place flour, sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process, pulsing machine, until mixture resembles coarse meal. (Alternatively, place flour and sugar in a mixing bowl and cut butter in using a pastry blender or two table knives.) Remove mixture to a work surface and knead gently until it holds together and forms a solid mass. Press dough in an even layer into prepared pan.

Bake until crust is light golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F.

For filling, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes or more. Add eggs and almond extract, beating well until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and beat in ground almonds and flour until blended. Spread filling over the crust and bake until golden and set, 20 to 22 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature.

For topping, in a medium saucepan, melt butter and sugar over low heat, stirring, until blended and smooth. Off the heat, stir in lemon zest and juice and half of the almonds. Spread mixture over the baked layer. Sprinkle remaining almonds on top and use your fingers to press them into the glaze. Cool 30 minutes or until glaze is set, then cut into 16 squares. Dust with confectioner's sugar. (Can be made a day ahead; store in an airtight container at room temperature.)

Note: Use slivered almonds, not sliced, and bake on a rimmed baking sheet in a preheated 350 F oven until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove and cool.

To grind almonds, use a food processor or, place nuts in a self-sealing plastic bag and pound with a rolling pin.

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Betty Rosbottom is a cooking school director and author.

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