Triple Sec Shortbread

This might be my new favorite cookie. Decadent orange-scented shortbread infused with triple sec, orange zest, and vanilla, topped with slivered almonds. Every bite makes me pause. They’re too delicious. I’m sharing the recipe here, hoping you might have time to make this triple sec shortbread before Christmas.

The inspiration comes from the Sarah Kieffer’s cookbook 100 Cookies. She stamps her version into circles, but as it’s the holidays, I used star and pine tree cookie cutters. I highly recommend using higher quality Irish or French butter here. You will notice the difference. It’s also your choice how thin to roll out the cookie dough. We started with 1/8-inch, but decided we like 1/2-inch better. With a thicker cookie, the dough is soft and luscious, and the they hold together better without breaking.

RECIPE

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons triple sec

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups (284 g) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (60 g) powdered sugar

1 tablespoon orange zest (I used a heaping tablespoon)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (227 g) unsalted butter (preferably good Irish or French butter), at room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

about 1 cup slivered almonds, for sprinkling

sanding sugar, for sprinkling

METHOD

Line several sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, use a fork to mix the egg yolks, triple sec, and vanila together.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, pulse the flour, granulated and powdered sugars, orange zest, and salt together. Then scatter the butter over the top of the flour mixture, and pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand, 8-10 one-second pulses. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the top of the flour mixture, and pulse until the dough is smooth and starts to pull away from the sides of the processor, about 10 more one-second pulses.

Scrape the dough out of the processor and wrap it in plastic. Then chill for 20 to 30 minutes in the refrigerator, just until it is cool to the touch, but not hard.

Flour a work surface, and roll the dough out somewhere between 1/8 inch and 1/2 inch thick (I prefer the thicker end of the spectrum). Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes, then place the cookies on the sheet pans. They will not spread out while baking, so they can be placed somewhat close together. If after stamping out the dough, the shapes stick to the work surface, you can slide a spatula underneath to help move them to the baking pans. Extra dough can be rerolled to make more cookies.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325F (165C).

Cover each cookie with sliced almonds and gently press them into the dough. Generously sprinkle sanding sugar over the top, then chill each pan in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before placing it in the oven. Bake one pan at a time, rotating halfway through baking. Bake 13-14 minutes.

Leave the cookies on the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling and firming up. Store triple sec shortbread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days, or longer in the fridge or freezer.

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