Friday, September 16, 2011

The Cat's Meow

Few things are as perfect as this Italian Shortbread with Almonds and Jam served perched on a glass of good Portuguese Madeira - tapas style!  This shortbread looks impressive and tastes fabulous, but is really easy to make.  You don't pre-bake the shell, it uses store-bought jam, and you don't even grease the pan!  If that's not enough, it's best made a day ahead and stored at room temperature! It's the perfect ending to my Mediterranean-inspired meal: Potato Croquetas with Saffron Alioli and Braised Paprika Chicken.  Thank you Cindy Mushet for the recipe, from her book Desserts: Mediterranean Flavors, California Style

Italian Shortbread with Almonds and Jam

Serves 6-8


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4-1/2 cup low-sugar apricot jam (I like Polaner brand, Apricot Spreadable Fruit)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
Confectioners' sugar, for serving (just a sprinkle)
1, 9" fluted tart pan with removable bottom (you can use a pie pan, but it won't look as fancy)
1 bottle of good Portuguese Madeira (I like The House of Sandeman - Rainwater Madeira)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle level.

Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed in a stand mixer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until very light, scraping down the bowl from time to time.  Add the almond extract and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds more to blend well.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour and salt together.  Add to the butter mixture and beat on low speed, just until the dough is thoroughly blended, 30 to 40 seconds.  (The dough will be stiff.)  Remove 1/2 cup of the dough and spread on a small plate in a thin layer, place it in the freezer.

Press the remaining dough evenly into the pan - it can be a little higher at the edge, but the center shouldn't be elevated.  Spread the jam evenly over the dough to within 1/2 to 1 inch of the edge.  Retrieve the remaining dough from the freezer and crumble it over the jam, allowing some jam to show through.  Sprinkle the almonds evenly over the top.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and let cool completely on a wire rack.  

To serve, remove the tart rim and dust lightly with confectioners' sugar.  Cut into wedges and perch on a small glass of Madeira.  MEOW!


  1. This is much more elegant than it sounds... pairs soooo well with a good Madeira!

    1. You got it!!! I'm so glad you enjoyed it as much as I do!!!

  2. Yum yum yum! This is on my to-do list.

    1. You'll love it! Don't forget the Sandeman Madeira! Thanks for visiting my site!