Allison's Honeyed Almond-Cherry Shortbread
Dried fruit and nuts may be the ingredients for traditional fruitcake, but here they shine in Allison Hedges' lusciously dense cookies. The secret is in the prep work: Cherries are soaked in sherry with citrus zest, and almonds get a salty-sweet coating for "pockets of deliciousness."
For the Cookie Dough
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
For the Honeyed Almonds
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 2 cups lightly toasted sliced almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Macerated Cherries
- 1 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon finely grated tangerine or orange zest
Prepare the macerated cherries: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, and toss to combine. Let stand for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Make the honeyed almonds: Cook honey and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and deep amber, about 5 minutes. Add almonds, salt, and vanilla. Stir to coat completely. Remove from heat, and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let cool, about 30 minutes, then coarsely chop.
Make the dough: Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add macerated cherries, and mix until combined. Add flour and salt, and mix until dough just comes together, about 1 minute. Add honeyed almonds, and mix until just combined.
Turn out dough onto a piece of parchment, and form into a 2 1/2-by-16-inch rectangular log, pressing edges with a ruler to shape; wrap in parchment. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. (Dough can be frozen for up to 3 months.) Cut dough into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and arrange on parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake until cookies are golden and set, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets.