Shortbread cookies are one of my favorite coffee pairings. The buttery cookies are a good match for just about all kinds of coffee, whether you prefer a light, citrusy roast or a dark chocolaty one. Most of the time – at coffee shops, in particular – plain shortbread cookies are the only kind that is available. When I worked on this recipe for Almond Coffee Shortbread, I decided that I wanted a change of pace from plain (though delicious) shortbread. The buttery cookies are made with a generous amount of ground almonds, which add a lot of flavor and give the cookies a very tender texture, and are flavored with coffee, cinnamon and brown sugar.
The best way to make this shortbread dough is in the food processor. The machine makes very quick work of the almonds, grinding them into an almond meal that is easy to incorporate in with the rest of the ingredients. Most almond meal is sold untoasted, so I generally start with toasted almonds and grind them myself for this recipe. The remaining ingredients can also go into the food processor and it will take less than a minute to bring everything together. The dough is pressed into a square baking pan, scored and baked. The finished cookies are delicious – and a delicious option for shortbread fans who are getting bored of the same old flavors. The coffee is present, but it is balanced out by the strong almond flavor. The brown sugar adds a nice sweetness, while the ground cinnamon adds just the right touch of spice to bring all the different flavors in the cookies together.
Though I prefer to use toasted almonds to give these cookies a deep, nutty flavor, you can also substitute in untoasted nuts for a slightly milder feel. On the other hand, if you are a huge almond lover, you might want to add in a few drops of almond extract to intensify the almond flavor even more. No matter how you fine-tune them, these simple cookies will be delicious. The cookies will keep very well in an airtight container for days after baking, so they’re a great recipe to make when you want to stock the kitchen with something you can nibble on at coffee time all week long.
Almond Coffee Shortbread
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sliced or slivered toasted almonds
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp instant espresso powder
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup butter, chilled and cut into several pieces.
Preheat oven to 325F. Line a lightly greased 9×9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
Combine all dry ingredients in the food processor and whizz until almonds are completely broken up into almond meal and the mixture is well-combined. Add in butter and pulse until mixture resembles wet sand with no large pieces of butter visible.
Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer (use the bottom of a glass to create a flat surface if you don’t want to use your fingertips).
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove shortbread from the oven and carefully cut into 18 slices (6 bars x 3 bars) using a knife or the edge of a metal spatula. Return to oven and bake for additional 20-25 minutes, until bars are set and are firm when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Immediately run your knife or spatula along the lines you cut before, then allow the shortbread to cool completely in the pan. Break shortbread into individual bars to serve.
Makes 18 bars.