Are you the one who hunts for the cookies that are just slightly overdone, the ones that are just a hair on the other side of just done? These shortbread are the holiday cookie you want.
We started with a basic shortbread, but then we looked for ways to add toasty, smoky flavours to it. First, we skillet toasted both the flour and wheat germ that make the dough. We also sweetened it with barley malt syrup, which lends a subtle malt flavour. Finally, we added smoked almonds for a smoky richness. Finally! All the toasty flavour, but none of the burn.
ROASTED TOASTED SHORTBREAD
Start to finish: 1 hour
Makes 30 cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons barley malt syrup
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup chopped smoked almonds
Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
In a large deep skillet over medium, toast the flour, stirring often, until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Scrape out into a bowl, then repeat with the wheat germ, which will take only 1 to 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a larger bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, sugar, malt syrup and salt just until creamy. Stir in the cooled flour, wheat germ and almonds until a dough forms. It should be a dry, crumbly dough.
Place the dough between 2 sheets of parchment or waxed paper and roll out to an even 3/8 inch thick. Cut out using 2-inch biscuit or cookie cutters of your choice. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and reroll the scraps to cut as many cookies as you can. Bake for 13 to 17 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to fully cool on the pan. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 weeks.
Nutrition information per serving: 120 calories; 70 calories from fat (58 per cent of total calories); 7 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 30 mg sodium; 12 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 2 g protein.
Alison Ladman is a chef, food writer and recipe developer for The Associated Press. She also owns The Crust and Crumb Baking Company in Concord, New Hampshire.