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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."

  • Yield: Makes 4 dozen
Allison's Honeyed Almond-Cherry Shortbread

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2009


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


  1. Prepare the macerated cherries: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, and toss to combine. Let stand for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake until cookies are golden and set, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets.

Cook's Note

Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Reviews (4)

  • patty1301 6 Sep, 2014

    I bake every Christmas and try a couple of new recipes every year - only once in a while do I add a new recipe to my permanent list but this recipe (baked Christmas 2013) was a huge hit - this one is permanently added to my Christmas cookie list!

  • medfordbakes 11 Dec, 2012

    this is one of my favorite christmas recipes - have used it for 3 years now. Double batches in fact! I also use the Trader Joe's Montmorency tart cherries and they work wonderfully!

    Yes, you can freeze the dough in advance, and thaw it out in an hour or so for baking.

  • lilcooky81 20 Dec, 2010

    Not one of my favorites...weird flavor combination. I used dried cherries from Trader Joes- maybe it matters what type of dried cherries you get and the type of sherry you use.

  • PPPGGG 3 Dec, 2010

    Wondering if this recipe can be frozen at any stage?

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