Berry-Almond Shortbread Cookies

updated Jan 28, 2021
christmas
Berry-Almond Shortbread Cookies

Toasted almond shortbread cookies tossed in colorful berry sugar.

Makes24 cookies

Prep15 minutes

Cook12 minutes to 14 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Various berry almond shortbread cookies colorfully lined up.
Credit: Photo: Christine Han | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

Classic shortbread cookies, with their buttery flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture, have always been a favorite of mine. But all too often they’re overlooked as boring, or treated as a supporting act to tea. I felt it was high time to give them an upgrade to give them the attention they so deserve.

This showstopper of a recipe is the result. Nutty rounds of shortbread are tossed in a flashy mixture of sugar pulsed with freeze-dried berries, giving them a vibrant color and bold, in-your-face flavor. It’s the classic shortbread cookie you know and love, transformed into a flavorful, technicolored dream. Here, I’ll show you how to make them in four simple steps.

Credit: Photo: Christine Han | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

1. Make a simple almond shortbread dough and cut it into 2-inch rounds.

The base of these cookies is super simple and comes together in less than 20 minutes. You’ll start by toasting the almonds on the stovetop and pulsing them in a food processor. Once that’s done, it’s as easy as creaming together sugar and butter, adding the dry ingredients, and pressing the dough into a ball. Then, you’ll roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface so it’s roughly 3/4-inch thick. You want these cookies to be rather thick, so make sure you don’t roll the dough out too thin. I use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut out rounds, but a standard shot glass would work perfectly.

Credit: Photo: Christine Han | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

2. Bake until golden-brown and crisp.

Before you bake the cookies, you’ll want to pop the tray in the freezer for five minutes to chill. This firms up the butter so they keep their shape and don’t spread out in the oven. You can also leave them in the freezer overnight if you want to get a head start! Once chilled, bake the cookies until they’re golden-brown, crisp, and fragrant. You’ll know they’re done when they smell like a combination of butter and toasted almonds.

Credit: Photo: Christine Han | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

3. Make colorful sugars by pulsing freeze-dried berries with sugar.

This is the part of the recipe where you can get creative and put your own spin on these cookies. In the bowl of a food processor, combine granulated sugar with whatever freeze-dried berry you like. Raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries all lend the sugar a vibrant color and bold, fruity flavor. If you’re unfamiliar with freeze-dried fruit, you can find it in the snack section of most well-stocked grocery stores, in health food stores, and other specialty shops. It typically comes in small, sealed packages near the nuts and other dried fruit. If unavailable, you can order them online.

Buy: Natierra Nature’s All Foods Organic Variety Four-Pack Freeze-Dried Fruit

Credit: Photo: Christine Han | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

4. Toss the cookies in the sugars and watch them transform into vibrant, shimmering beauties.

Up until this moment the cookies will look rather humble, but as soon as you toss them in the sugar they transform into flashy, technicolored treats. Working with one cookie at a time, toss them in the prepared sugars, taking care to coat them on all sides. You only want to coat each cookie in one type of sugar, and some cookies can be left simple and tossed in plain granulated sugar for additional color variation. The pulverized berries stain the outside of the cookies a vibrant hue, while the granulated sugar gives them an extra layer of crunch and makes them shimmer. This step is where the magic happens, so take your time and have fun with it.

Credit: Photo: Christine Han | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

Ready to bake these cookies? Tag your photos #Jessescookieclub to join in the fun!

Berry-Almond Shortbread Cookies

Toasted almond shortbread cookies tossed in colorful berry sugar.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 12 minutes to 14 minutes

Makes 24 cookies

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the shortbread:

  • 14 tablespoons

    (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup

    raw sliced almonds

  • 1/3 cup

    powdered sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1

    large egg yolk

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

For the berry sugar coating:

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 3/4 cups

    freeze-dried berries (1 ounce), such as blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries

Instructions

  1. Place 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Alternatively, place in a large bowl if using an electric hand mixer.) Let sit at room temperature until softened.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Meanwhile, make the cookie dough.

  3. Place 1/2 cup sliced almonds in a medium skillet over medium heat. Toast, stirring frequently, until the almonds darken in color slightly and are very fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Immediately transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and let cool for 10 minutes. Process until the almonds are the texture of coarse flour and no large pieces remain, about 30 seconds.

  4. Add 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1 large egg yolk to the butter and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the ground almonds, 2 cups all-purpose flour, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and mix on low speed until a dough forms, 1 minute.

  5. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out 3/4-inch thick. Using a 2-inch round cutter (or a standard shot glass), cut out rounds. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1-inch apart (these cookies won't spread during baking). Press the dough scraps together into a ball and repeat rolling and cutting out rounds. (If the dough becomes too soft to work with, form it into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15 minutes before rerolling.) Freeze the rounds for 5 minutes.

  6. Bake until the cookies are light brown on the tops and edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 3/4 cups freeze-dried berries (1 ounce) in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until the berries are very finely ground and the sugar is tinted a light pastel color, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl.

  7. Toss the cookies one by one in the sugar to coat them on all sides.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftover cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Flavor variations: To make an array of different berry flavors from one batch of cookies, make multiple batches of the berry sugar coating recipe changing the type of freeze-dried berry you use. Any leftover berry sugar can be used in hot tea or as a crunchy topping for fresh fruit.

Plain cookies: For a non-berry option, coat the cookies in plain granulated sugar.

Welcome to Jesse’s Cookie Club, where Studio Food Editor (and resident cookie expert) Jesse Szewczyk shares a brand-new monthly recipe that transforms a classic cookie into something new, bold, and exciting. From nutty brown butter blondies to chewy sweet potato snickerdoodles, these treats are anything but boring — and every recipe includes step-by-step photos so any level of baker can make them. Follow along and share your cookie creations using #Jessescookieclub.

Credit: Kitchn