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Amaretto Shortbread Cookies

Amaretto Shortbread Cookies

Yesterday, I kicked off a two-part series on the potential first ladies’ favorite cookie recipes with Cindy McCain’s Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies. The recipes are part of a Good Housekeeping tradition that asks readers to vote for their favorite cookie recipe every election year. With McCain’s cookies out of the way, it’s time to take a look at Michelle Obama’s recipe: Amaretto Shortbread Cookies.

These shortbread cookies are a little different than your typical shortbread because they have a lot of sugar in them and most shortbread tend not to. In addition to making them quite a bit sweeter than some similar cookies, this is something that could actually make the shortbread a bit dense and take away from its overall flakiness, as sugar caramelizes in the oven. Fortunately, this isn’t really the case here. The cookies are sweet, but because the recipe calls for cake flour instead of all purpose, they don’t become heavy as a result of the extra sugar. They’re not crumbly shortbread cookies, but they do still tend to melt in your mouth (thanks to all that butter!).

Amaretto is the dominant flavor, but the lemon zest and orange zest do come into play and make for an interesting overall flavor combination. The one and only complaint I have about the recipe is that the original calls for optional “chopped nuts or dried fruit” to be added on top of the cookie before baking. Since fruit and nuts can so dramatically change the flavor of the recipe, this seems a little open-ended. The GH photo seems to show the shortbread topped with pistachios, dried cranberries and candied ginger. In combination with the flavors in the shortbread, this seemed a little over-the-top to me and I ended up opting for only dried cherries on mine.

In the end, I can’t come up with a winner in the GH cookie bake-off. I like them both. And fortunately, with cookies, you can have more than one winner.

Amaretto Shortbread Cookies
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp Amaretto (or 1 tsp almond extract)
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp lemon zest
3 cups cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1/3 cup dried sweet cherries
additional sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 325F and line a 17 x 12-in baking pan with foil and lightly grease(Note: a half-recipe can be made in an 8×8-inch pan with about the same baking time, if you don’t have this size).
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, followed by amaretto and zests.
Sift the flour and salt over the butter mixture and stir to combine. Turn dough into prepared pan and press down into an even layer. Press cherries onto dough.
Brush shortbread with beaten egg white and sprinkle with 1-2 tbsp additional sugar.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until shortbread is light brown all over. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then run a knife through to cut while still soft. Let shortbread cool completely before reslicing and removing from pan.
Makes about 36 cookies.

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55 Comments
  • bakingblonde
    July 3, 2008

    I rarely bake using fruit flavors, I really need to start. These sound amazing!

  • sarah
    July 4, 2008

    yes, but which one TASTES better…it kind of sounds (from your reviews) that McCain’s does?

  • Nicole
    July 4, 2008

    They both taste good, and I liked both of them. If you like shortbread more, you’ll probably go for these. If you tend to like oatmeal cookies more, you’ll probably go for the others. I’m not going to pick one over the other for anybody! =)

  • Pat
    July 5, 2008

    I usually love your recipes, but I’m sorry to say that this one looks very unappetizing. To my taste, shortbread should be dry and buttery. This one looks gooey. Just wanted to add that your marshmallows are my all-time favorite!!! YUM.

  • Angela
    July 7, 2008

    I think they look rather tasty…but I’m not a fan of dry. LOL ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Nicole
    July 8, 2008

    Pat – Thanks for the kind words about my recipes. This one, obviously, isn’t actually mine at all, but from the presidential issue of GH. I think that the “gooey” look you’re getting is from the egg white glaze that is on top of the shortbread. I thought it was very unusal when I was doing it, and it definitely does give the shortbread a wet/shiny look. They’re not actually gooey at all, however.

  • Mario
    October 14, 2008

    My mouth is watering! Thanks for inspiring us with your beautiful recipes.

    Cant wait to have a bite !! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • David Houses
    November 4, 2008

    Wow, this looks good. Would you consider adding
    some amaretto coffee creamer? That would make
    it a little sweeter and give it another taste too.
    I bet the house smells real good when cooking this.

  • Jenni
    December 2, 2008

    I’m afraid I would have to agree with Pat. They do look a little gooey. For me not how shortbread should be.

  • aimee
    January 12, 2009

    As a Brit I’m going to have to agree with the “too gooey” contingent. Looks a little like raw cookie dough.

  • Torey
    February 5, 2009

    These bars look magnificent! Dried cherries are one of the most underused ingredients out there. I sure don’t have a problem with the way they look. Perhaps misnamed, but a great recipe is a great recipe. Thank you for this one!

  • Positive thinking
    March 13, 2009

    I love those cookies, look so delcious

  • Uricinex
    April 3, 2009

    I made these last night and we really enjoyed them. I didn’t have the Amaretto so I subbed with the almond extract. While they do look like they will be gooey (not always a bad thing), they did not turn out gooey at all. But, my gang around here still enjoyed the Butterscotch Oatmeal cookies more. : )

  • Steve Article
    April 22, 2009

    I can’t resist myself.. just want to taste it.. please mail me..LOL

  • make money online
    May 28, 2009

    Cool. Bookmarked and will try to make it with your recipe.

  • Bead Stalk
    July 6, 2009

    They both sound very tasty. Was the amount of Amaretto used in the cookies overpowering? I find it quite a strong sickly sweet flavour if used in abundance.

  • Bizzie Mommy
    July 9, 2009

    it’s great

  • iintense
    July 18, 2009

    wow, I’m going to have to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kaizen Print
    July 27, 2009

    Great recipe. Now I’m starving!!! Thanks ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • beat maker
    July 31, 2009

    Yummy…yummy..email me please

  • Adventure travel
    August 5, 2009

    Sounds very interesting… Never tried shortbread that didnt taste like… well shortbread. Im definitely trying this one

  • Daniel
    August 16, 2009

    Tasty stuff! Thanks for writing, Not! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I love the โ€œgooeyโ€ texture to cookies. Things looks a delectable.

  • phenternin
    August 20, 2009

    Hi, while shortbread generally is dry and buttery, I love this new receipe which is gooey and delicious. I love gooey cookies ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Interestrefinanced
    August 26, 2009

    Might take a little bit to make these I see, but I am sure it will be well worth it!! Looks good, right now!!

  • Interestrefinanced
    August 26, 2009

    I am going to have to talk the GF into making some of these for me tonight! Nice post for sure!

  • techfused.com
    August 26, 2009

    Thinking the coconut looks the best!

  • PSP Homebrew
    August 28, 2009

    this looks delicious ! Will surely try it out !

  • Free Games
    September 18, 2009

    Okay I’m definitely craving for this!! It looks very delicious…

  • claire adams
    September 22, 2009

    very tasty! tried it out and everybody loved it!

  • Patricia Ryans
    September 28, 2009

    I got to disagree with Pat. Anyone whose mouth does not water at these yummy cookie recipes surely need to have their senses checked up by a doctor! ๐Ÿ˜›

    Keep it up Nicole. Don’t bother with rude people who really don’t know what it takes to cook nice cookies! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • This is cool!

  • dirtdevilfilters
    October 19, 2009

    this cookies are looking delicious. Unfortunately I am terrible cook so I don’t presume to try to make some.

  • san diego real estate
    October 24, 2009

    These cookies seems to be delicious. I liked this new receipe and I will surely try it.

  • Sachin Article
    October 29, 2009

    Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies .. Both Butterscotch and Oatmeal are my favorites, on top of it they have optimal sugar. Thanks for the recipe, I will surely try it.

  • Floor Steam Cleaner
    October 31, 2009

    I can’t really imagine myself ever enjoying anything that Cindy McCain would make… these cookies, however, look delicious!

  • Web 2.0 Graphics
    November 16, 2009

    Ok, now I’m hungry!!! haha

  • sudoku solver
    November 17, 2009

    me too those look absolutley delicious

  • zhu zhu
    November 26, 2009

    Those look great! I love shortbread.

  • Wall Painting Techniques
    December 2, 2009

    those are my favourite..

  • Megaminis
    December 4, 2009

    I love shortbread. Stop making me hungry! heh

  • Mr Credit Repair
    February 22, 2010

    Wow! Looks really tasty! I want it!!! I can never get enough of good treats.

  • Pitbull Training -Diane
    February 27, 2010

    mmmmm I think they look very very tasty and I liked both of them.
    Thanx for the recipe ….i will definitely give it a shot ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Organic bedding
    April 9, 2010

    Its mouth watering.. I feel like to eat one..so tempting..

  • Daniel
    April 12, 2010

    It looks good to me, only problem is, I can’t eat sweet stuff.

  • Swarovski chick
    April 14, 2010

    They look scrumptiously sticky and sweet, which is great as I have a very sweet tooth.

  • Junk Silver
    April 21, 2010

    Wow! It is tasty! I like Amaretto!

  • Food Based Healing
    May 3, 2010

    Yum, just the thing I need.

  • Amaretto is the dominant flavor, but the lemon zest and orange zest do come into play and make for an interesting overall flavor combination.

  • […] here’s the recipe for the “losing” cookies of the new first lady, Michelle Obama. Baking Bites says that theses cookies are a lot sweeter than the usual shortbread cookies and that the amaretto […]

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