These buttery Almond & Jam Shortbread Cookies, filled with delicious apricot, raspberry or your favorite jam, are perfect for a tea party or the holidays!
Truth be told, these are one of my FAVORITE Christmas cookies - I much prefer the delicate shortbread to all of the peanut butter and chocolate cookies that are so loved by everyone else in the family!
QUALITY INGREDIENTS ARE KEY!
Because shortbread cookies have so few ingredients, the quality of your ingredients really does make a difference!
Use the best quality butter you can find, and this is the time to use pure vanilla extract and pure almond extract. If you're worried about nut allergies, leave out the pure almond extract usually used in shortbread.
And definitely use your favorite jams, fruit spreads and jellies for these. Pure and sweet fruit flavor is what makes these cookies magical!
WHAT IS THE SECRET TO PERFECT JAM-FILLED SHORTBREAD COOKIES?
It seems so basic, but chilling the delicate dough overnight so that the flavors meld together is where we start for a perfect shortbread cookie! This is a great cookie dough to make a day - or even a few days before you plan on baking.
Roll the cookie dough into 1-inch balls, making sure they're nice and smooth. Make an indentation with your thumb into each ball. The dough may crack slightly when you press your thumb into it, but you can pinch the dough back together gently.
Fill each impression with a scant 1/2 teaspoon of jam. Place prepared cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes – this step is MANDATORY and will keep the dough from spreading too much during baking and helps your cookies keep their shape.
This is one of my most-requested recipes, and you can make the as simple or fancy as you would like. I've made them with no almond glaze - and they are good that way, but if you have the time, drizzle the top with the beautiful glazed almond ribbons. These will stay fresh and pretty the longest if you store in a covered container with parchment paper between layers in a chilled location, and they freeze like a dream!
So pretty! One bite, and you'll know why these are one of our favorite cookies! Hope you enjoy as much as we do!
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups + 2 Tbsp (264g) all-purpose flour (sifted & spooned – not scooped!)
1 cup jam or preserves
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoon cream or half & half
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
HOW I MAKE THESE:
1. Beat the butter on high speed with a handheld or stand mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Switch mixer to medium speed and add the sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, scraping down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed. Turn the mixer off and add half of the flour; turn the mixer on low and slowly beat just until combined. Add remaining flour and again mix slowly just until a very soft dough is formed. Press the dough down into bowl, tightly cover with plastic wrap to chill overnight.
2. The next day, remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator an hour before you intend to start baking.
3. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (parchment paper seems to work better than silicone mats for these shortbread cookies).
4. Roll the cookie dough into 1-inch balls, making sure they're nice and smooth. Make an indentation with your thumb into each ball. The dough may crack slightly when you press your thumb into it, but you can pinch the dough back together gently. Fill each impression with a scant 1/2 teaspoon of jam. Place prepared cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes – this step is MANDATORY!
5. Bake the shortbread thumbprint cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until very lightly browned on the edges. The cookies will puff up and spread slightly. Do not overbake!
6. Remove from oven and immediately spoon an additional ½ teaspoon of Sugar Plum jam into each cookie, smoothing it around to fill the indentation evenly. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet. Cool to room temperature before glazing.
7. To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, cream/half & half, vanilla and almond extract and corn syrup until smooth. Add more liquid to thin out or add more powdered sugar to thicken to your desired consistency. Carefully drizzle over cooled cookies and allow glaze to set (you can refrigerate to speed this process up).
8. Store cookies covered at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days. Baked cookies can be frozen up to 30 days – thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
YIELD: Makes 36 cookies
Originally posted December 2010, revised and reposted December 2019.
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