Italian Shortbread with Almonds and Jam
|12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, 1 1/2 sticks|
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|1/2 cup sugar|
|1/4 tsp. almond extract|
|1 1/2 cups unbleached flour|
|1/8 tsp. salt|
|1/4 cup low sugar apricot jam, preferably smucker's, grapefruit marmalade or other not too sweet jam|
|1/3 cup sliced almonds|
|powdered sugar for serving, optional|
This is a wonderful dessert for those unexpected emergencies. It smells divine and it's so beautiful it makes you look like a wizard in the kitchen. You don't even have to grease the pan. The shortbread tastes best the day after it's baked, if there's any left. Serve with ice cream or a glass of Vin Santo or other sweet dessert wine. Great with coffee, too.
Note: You can make the shortbread, unbaked up to 1 month ahead. Wrap it twice in plastic wrap and freeze it on a flat surface. To bake the shortbread, unwrap it and set it frozen in the oven. Allow a few extra minutes of baking time. If you like, you can you can omit the jam. Just press all the dough into the pan and top it with the almonds. You might want to add the grated zest of a lemon (I'd try an orange, too) to the dough along with the almond extract.