I’m going to try and be really nice here and break it to ya gently.
If you don’t make these Lemon-Almond Shortbread Bars, you will never experience their rich, buttery, flaky, citrusy, nutty, comforting delectableness. There. Become intimate with the shortbread, people. You will thank yourself. I dipped a little in my hot coffee this morning and my coffee thanked me.
The cornmeal addition may sound strange, but it gives the shortbread a slight crunch (along with the almonds). I cut mine into a little larger pieces, yielding about 20 bars. If you decide to share, you will not be sorry. People will love you for it.
Now, go & be good to yourself. Make these bars. Let them cool. Find a dark, quiet place to sit. Close your eyes.
Adapted from Fine Cooking.
Lemon Almond Shortbread Bars
3 sticks butter, at room temperature
2 c. unbleached flour
1 c. finely ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 c. finely chopped almonds (I bought a small package of pre-sliced almonds and finely chopped the slices to 1/2 c.)
1/2 t. salt
1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 T. (full) lemon zest
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/8 t. pure almond extract
Little more sliced almonds for the top
Preheat oven to 325-degrees.
Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan. I placed foil in the bottom of the pan and buttered the foil. You could also use parchment paper.
Whisk flour, cornmeal, almonds and salt until blended in a medium bowl. I used my hands and rubbed the flour and cornmeal together instead of sifting the flour. You probably won’t see that on any foodie shows, but it works for me. Use a stand mixer or a hand mixer (I used my hand mixer) and cream together lemon zest, vanilla extract, almond extract, butter and sugar until light and fluffy. It will probably take about 3-4 minutes to cream at medium speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until moist clumps form.
Flour your fingertips and spread dough evenly in prepared pan. Cover with sliced almonds. Score dough into approx. 1 x 2.5-inch pieces. Bake for 35-40 minutes (until top is golden brown and looks dry). Immediately cut pieces along scored lines (don’t wait until they’re cool). Cool bars completely before removing.