‘Tis the season of baking and I did my share last week! One of my favorite recipes I make every year is apricot almond shortbread bars, they’re always a big hit at our Christmas party and my go-to recipe if I ever get invited to a cookie swap.
This recipe originally appeared in Bon Appétit in December 2005, and I made it when it first was published. Over the years I’ve modified it slightly, subtracting the almond paste, adding orange zest, and also doubling the recipe to make a full cookie sheet. You can find the original recipe here. The following is my version of apricot almond shortbread bars:
1 ½ cups apricot preserves
3 tbsp orange flavored liqueur (Grand Marnier or Cointreau)
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp orange zest
4 cups flour
½ tsp salt
1 small bag (2.25 oz) sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, line cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray it lightly with cooking spray. In a mixer, combine butter, sugar, and almond extract until well blended, then slowly add flour 1 cup at a time to form shortbread mixture. Transfer 1 ½ cups of shortbread mixture to bowl and set aside.
Press remaining mixture of shortbread into parchment lined cookie sheet, fill to corners pressing gently with palm. Mix preserves with liqueur in separate bowl and spread evenly over top of shortbread.
Mix remaining 1 ½ cups of shortbread with orange zest and sliced almonds.
Crumble with fingertips over sheet to form topping.
Bake in oven for 50 minutes, or until crust turns golden. Allow cookies to cool for 30 minutes, then slice with sharp knife or better yet, a pizza cutter.
Recipe makes one full cookie sheet of bars, or about 40-48 cookies depending how wide you slice them. Stack them up on a plate, and I dare you to eat just one. My hub cannot, they’re his favorite. The apricot gets all chewy and forms a heavenly flavor with the shortbread and orange and almonds. Cherry preserves and cognac might be a nice substitute too but I’d skip the orange zest in that situation. Serve with coffee or tea.
These are fabulous during the holidays with their light apricot and citrus combo, but equally wonderful at any other special occasion or event. Like breakfast.
Printable .pdf recipe here.
What about you? Baked a favorite or famous holiday treat this season? Do share!