Cinnamon nut crunch shortbread

Top a basic shortbread dough with cinnamon-sugar nuts. Almonds, walnuts, and pecans all work. Then sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of each piece for an extra-special touch.

The Pastry Chef's Baking
The key to shortbread is making sure you bake it long enough. You want a 'snap' in the texture and the smooth buttery taste.

I've been baking the recipes I've pinned so much lately that I've been neglecting the recipes in my "still need to make" file on my computer. Back to those recipes for this one. This is from one of my favorite cookbook authors and I've had this recipe in my file for a few years. The original recipe called for pecans but I had a ton of almonds in my freezer so I went with those.

This is a good basic shortbread and the addition of the cinnamon-sugar nuts cuts through the normal buttery taste of shortbread. The key to good shortbread is making sure you bake it long enough. If you underbake it, you won't get the "snap" in the texture and instead it'll be more chewy. You don't want to overbake it either, but if you do bake it a trifle longer than you should, it's still not so bad as long as it doesn't burn. I did end up covering the pan loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil about halfway through the baking time so the nuts didn't burn.

While I liked this version, Regan Daley's recipe for butter toffee crunch shortbread is still my favorite shortbread recipe.

Cinnamon shortbread dough
From Baking by Flavor by Lisa Yockelson

1-1/4 cups unsifted bleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup rice flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup unsifted confectioners’ sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Nut crunch topping
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (I used almonds)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Confectioners’ sugar for sifting over the baked and cooled shortbread (optional)

Fluted 9 1/2”-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Film the inside of the tart pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

2. Sift the all-purpose flour, rice flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg onto a sheet of waxed paper.

3. Cream the butter in the large bowl of a freestanding electric mixer on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract, and continue beating for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add the sifted mixture in two additions, mixing until the particles of flour are absorbed and a smooth soft dough is created. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl once or twice with a rubber spatula to keep the dough even-textured. The shortbread dough will be shapeable and supple.

4. Turn the dough into the prepared tart pan. Lightly press and pat the dough into an even layer, using your fingertips. Lightly prick the dough with the tines of a fork in 12 to 15 places.

5. Combine the chopped nuts with the granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the shortbread dough. With the underside of a small, offset metal spatula (or your fingertips), lightly press the nut topping on top of the dough.

6. Bake the shortbread for 45 minutes or until set. The baking time on this shortbread is a little longer than usual because the topping adds an extra dimension of thickness to the cookie. The shortbread must be completely baked through. (If the nut topping appears to be browning too fast after 30 minutes, place a sheet of aluminum foil lightly on top of the cookie.)

7. Let the cookie stand in the tart pan on the cooling rack for 10 minutes, then unmold carefully, leaving it on its round base. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes longer. With a sharp chef’s knife, cut into even-sized wedges. Cool completely. Just before serving, sieve a light coating of confectioners’ sugar over the top of the shortbread triangles, if you wish.

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