As soon as I saw these cookies, I knew I had to make them for Andy. After all, he is a self-proclaimed fruit junkie. If you give him a choice between a piece of fruit or cookies/cake/other snack food, he will choose the fruit, nine times out of ten. Of course, he’ll probably go back for the cookie once the fruit is gone, but still. I can’t buy the stuff fast enough. So when I saw a cookie studded with chunks of dried apricots (one of Andy’s favorite snacks), I was pretty sure that I’d stumbled upon his cookie utopia.
I didn’t get around to trying these cookies right away, and they kind of fell off my radar until a couple weeks ago. Andy was spending some quality time in the garage with his truck, fixing something with the leaf spring bracket. (I think, anyway. I tried to pay attention to what exactly was going on, but a lot of it went over my head. He fixed it though! Yay for handy husbands!) I felt bad for him (especially since our garage isn’t heated) and decided to make a “you’re-the-best-for-fixing-the-truck” treat. What better way to show my appreciation than with cookies, right? Especially cookies with one of his favorite fruits!
Well… they weren’t chocolate chip cookies. And when you’re expecting a chewy, melty chocolate chip cookie, shortbread is a little bit of a disappointment, apparently. Even if it is stuffed with apricots. That’s fine. Nothing said he had to be wowed by them (even though these were the best shortbread cookies I’d ever tried). I’d just eat them myself.
A funny thing happened though. Andy kept going back for “just one more cookie.” I don’t know if it was the butter, the apricots, or the appetite he worked up out in the garage, but these things had some sort of magnetic pull. We could not quit eating them. In fact, they disappeared in record time, which is pretty amazing when you consider that they weren’t chocolate chip cookies.
This was my first time making a shortbread cookie, and while I knew they were going to be crumbly, I was a little surprised at how hard it was for the dough to come together. The recipe said to mix it by hand, and I think that was part of my problem. Next time, I’ll try it with my mixer and see if that works better. I was also unsure about a cookie recipe without any baking powder or soda, but since these worked out just fine, it must not be necessary for shortbread! I ended up adding some extra vanilla, and I think that almond extract would be great in them as well. I’m not including those changes in the recipe below, because I didn’t have a chance to try most of them out. Next time.
Apricot Shortbread Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
Combine all of the ingredients except the apricots together in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. (I ended up using my hands to work it together.) Gently stir in the chopped apricots.
Cut a large piece of plastic wrap and turn the dough out onto the plastic. Shape the dough into a 2″ wide log. Roll the log in the plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (Or, 20 minutes in the freezer if you’re impatient like me.)
Remove the dough from the freezer and slice into rounds that are about 1/4″ thick. Place cookies about 1/2″ apart on the prepared sheet and bake until they are barely golden brown, about 13-15 minutes. Let cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
As seen on Branny Boils Over, originally adapted from Martha Stewart
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