What’s not to love about almonds, oranges and cranberries? These shortbread bars are so fragrant and simple to make, they are perfect for holiday baking or any day of the week treat! The cranberries are so pretty, they look like little jewels and the combo of almonds and orange smell crazy good! This cookie checks off all the boxes for me! Sweet, fragrant, crunchy and tangy. I always make a double batch because a single batch just isn’t enough.
HOW TO MAKE THEM
Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the oven rack in the center. Line an 8X8 baking tin with parchment paper and set aside.
In a stand-alone mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream one stick of room temperature butter and 3/4 cup granulated sugar. Combine the egg then add the almond emulsion, vanilla extract, orange zest and kosher salt. Remember to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, as needed.
Note: If you don’t have a stand-alone mixer, you can use a handheld mixer or a spatula.
Tip: Zest the orange with the microplane bottom side up over the orange. This way you can see exactly how much you’re zesting and which section of the orange you’re working on. I find it easy to avoid the white, bitter pith this way.
Gradually add the flour and mix on low until most of the flour has been incorporated. You don’t want to overwork the gluten in the flour. Scrape the sides down and fold in the chopped cranberries just until they are evenly distributed and you don’t see any flour.
Note: You can also substitute the cranberries with apricots, cherries or any other dried fruit you like. Equally delicious!
Dump the dough in the baking tin and use a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper to evenly press and spread the dough to the edges. The dough is sticky so I don’t recommend using your fingers. Bake at 350°F for 28-30 minutes or until the edges become golden. In my oven the magic number is 30 minutes. You want the edges and bottom to be a light golden color.
Cool for 5 minutes in the tin then cool on a wire rack. While the shortbread is cooling, make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the sifted confectioner’s sugar (a.k.a. powdered sugar) and whole milk. Whisk in the almond emulsion and orange zest. That’s it. Glaze should have a good consistency and not too thin or runny.
Note: Powdered sugar can clump up. Sifting the powdered sugar ensures a smooth glaze without lumps.
Cut the cookies into desired shape. I start by making two intersecting cuts down the middle and divide the 8X8 square into four even 4X4 squares. Then cut each 4X4 section to your liking and size – squares, triangles or rectangles. Depending on how large you want your bars, the recipe can yield from 8 to 16 bars.
8 large triangle bars: make a diagonal cut in each 4X4 square (shown below)
16 mini triangles: make an X cut in the center of each 4X4 square, creating 4 mini triangles per square
16 mini squares: cut each 4X4 section into 4 mini squares
12 rectangle bars = cut each 4X4 section in thirds, creating 3 rectangle bars per 4X4 square
Unless you’re making a dessert bar, you really want a more substantial cookie. That’s why I recommend doubling the recipe. I like the large triangle. It’s my goldilocks size – just right! Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea for a lovely treat.
By the way, the image above shows a batch and a half. I made two batches, but my family ate half a batch before I could take the pictures. That how the family rolls. They are worse than Yogi Bear with a picnic basket.
Almond Cranberry Shortbread Bars
These shortbread cookies are delightful! Almond and orange flavored shortbread studded with cranberries, topped with more almonds and drizzled with an almond orange glaze! I always make a double batch. Enjoy!
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick) prefer Kerrygold or Plugra brand
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon almond emulsion prefer LorAnn Emulsion
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt prefer Diamond brand
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup dried cranberries, chopped substitute with dried apricots or cherries
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 3-4 teaspoons whole milk substitute half & half or water
- ¼ teaspoon almond emulsion
- ¼ teaspoon orange zest
Preheat oven to 350°F and place oven rack in the center. Line an 8X8 baking tin with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a stand alone mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Beat in the egg until incorporated. Add almond emulsion, vanilla extract, orange zest and kosher salt and mix to combine, scraping down the sides as needed.
With the mixer on slow speed, gradually add the flour and mix until mostly combined. Fold in the chopped cranberries until they are evenly distributed and all the flour has been blended. Don't over mix.
Press dough into the prepared baking tin. The dough is sticky so use a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper to press the dough evenly to the edges of the tin. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Bake at 350°F for 28-30 minutes or until the edges are a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool in tin for 5 minutes. Remove from tin and cool completely on cooling rack.
While the shortbread cools, make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and whole milk until smooth. Add almond emulsion and orange zest and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Note: You can add more sugar (1 Tablespoon at a time) or milk (1 teaspoon at a time) until glaze reaches desired consistency.
Cut the 8X8 shortbread into squares, triangles or rectangles. Depending on how you cut them, they will yield 8-16 cookies. Drizzle with glaze and enjoy!
Note: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Freeze: You can freeze the dough up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator and bake accordingly.
Post Bake Freeze: Allow to cool completely and freeze unglazed. Thaw in refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature before glazing.