amaretto and dark chocolate shortbread. TSP christmas cookie week


It’s hard to believe it’s the final month of 2014. This year has flown by in a tumble of seasons and emotions, the most significant of which were two summers and two autumns (the product of a four month trip to the Northern Hemisphere, which I’ve written about in a series beginning here).

This month marks the beginning of our second summer – hot, dry and sun drenched, trademarks of an Australian December. As I write, a soft breeze drifts through the window; eucalyptus-scented and warmed by the afternoon sun.

It’s less than three weeks til Christmas. Three weeks until glasses will clink, presents will be opened and carols will be sung around gilded trees. As per usual, I’m a little behind in terms of organizing small stuff like presents, cards and, uh, turkeys, that kind of thing.

But at least I’ve baked cookies.


Now that I’ve confessed my chronic Christmas disorganization, let me introduce you to someone who’s the polar opposite. Despite planning for the (exciting!) arrival of her very first child, my beautiful friend Erin at The Speckled Palate is again hosting a massive Christmas Cookie Week for 2014!

If you’re a long-term reader of this blog you may remember that I scraped into the last day of Christmas Cookie Week 2013 by the skin of my teeth (or rather, by furiously typing into the wee hours – read the post here). I’m pleased to say that this year’s been a little bit different. I’ve baked, jotted and photographed in time for the kick-off!


As for the recipe? Well, after a recent trip to Scotland I couldn’t help but think of shortbread as the classic Christmas cookie. For something extra special, I’ve embellished the traditional version with almond meal, Amaretto liqueur and a drizzle of bitter dark chocolate.

The Speckled Palate‘s Christmas Cookie Week will run from Sunday, December 7th to Saturday, December 13th 2014. If you’d like to participate, you can find more details right here.


Amaretto and Dark Chocolate Shortbread

Makes 18 cookies

  • 125g butter, at room temperature
  • 60g pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 60g almond meal
  • 115g (3/4 cup) plain flour
  • 2 tsp Amaretto liqueur
  • 50g dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa content), melted

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (356 degrees f). Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper, then set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter, Amaretto and sugar together until pale and creamy.

butterAdd in the almond meal and flour, then stir to combine (the mixture should be cohesive but not sticky).


Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls, then place onto your lined trays (allow room for spreading). Press down gently with a fork until the cookies are about 1.5cm thick.


Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes or until golden.

Remove from the oven and leave for five minutes (the cookies will be soft when you first remove them from the oven) before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

When your cookies are completely cooled, drizzle with the melted chocolate (I just used a fork dipped in chocolate in a back-and-forth motion, however you can use a small snap-lock bag with the corner snipped off if you prefer).


When set, store in an airtight container for up to one week.


Thanks Erin for coordinating another beautiful Christmas Cookie Week for 2014! Now, onto my Christmas shopping…

61 responses

  1. Oh, yes! I want to make these as soon as humanly possible! I love anything almond, and the combination of the almond meal and amaretto seems perfect. Thanks, Laura!

    • Oh, I’m so glad you like the look of them David! I am definitely familiar with your almond obsession and I was actually thinking of you as I made them ;) I hope that you and Mark are having a beautiful December so far. It’s almost Christmas, eek! x

    • Me too Maria, it’s a little ridiculous but beautiful at the same time! Yay, so glad that you’re going to join us for cookie week this year! It’s a great opportunity to get excited about Christmas baking ;) Hugs, hope that you’re having a beautiful December xx

  2. Laura, if you’ve baked cookies, you’re in a good place. . you’ll get to the rest of everything for preparation for Christmas eventually. . :) I am also behind and did not get things organized in time to take and send Christmas cards .. we’re taking family photos in Dallas on the 23rd I think. . ha! :) oh well, if we (paul and I and our church) are able to teach my youngest the true meaning of Christ-mas at age 4, then my work will be done. :) love these cookies!!! I love shortbread cookies and love the addition of the hazelnut meal, Amaretto liqueur and a drizzle of bitter dark chocolate. yes!!!

    • Thanks so much Alice! Ah, yes, I am getting there slowly. And I definitely agree that the meaning of Christmas is the most important part! I hope that you, Paul and the kids have an amazing Christmas. Hugs xx

    • Oh, thanks lovely! Haha… yes I do have a bit of a plate assortment, I’ve stopped myself buying any more though as living in an apartment isn’t really accommodating of a prop hoard! Wish I could deliver you some of these, they were lovely x

  3. I had a disaster with gluten free short bread on the weekend, it’s not often I chuck food in the bin! Thanks for using almond meal in these beauties, it’s the answer of coarse to the horrid texture when avoiding wheat. I have never been as disorganized as I am this year….

    • Oh no! So sorry about the disaster, I’ve never had to chuck food away thankfully (except when I once dropped a whole cake tin full of batter onto the ground when I was in a rush – it was on its way to the oven and I almost cried! Had to start all over again!). Ditto on the disorganisation, we will get there! x

  4. I haven’t even got my tree up yet. But I have baked a ginger cake. I get points for that, right? Your shortbreads look divine. I love the addition of almond AND amaretto. Butter held together by a few other ingredients – doesn’t get much better than that.

  5. Can’t believe there are only 17 sleeps ’til Christmas!
    I could eat that whipped butter, Amaretto and sugar by the spoonful! Have never tried the back-and-forth fork method for chocolate drizzling – your cookies look restaurant-quality, and I’m not sure they’d last a week in our house. Yum! Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas Laura.

    • Argh, it’s only ten days now that I’ve had time to respond Saskia! Scary, as I remain just as disorganised as when I wrote this post! And I agree, buttery sweet Amaretto whip is a marvel on its own. A little scrape is definitely the cook’s treat ;) Wishing you a beautiful Christmas too my lovely friend xxx

  6. These are on my list for ‘xmas baking. I love shortbread and the addition of almond and amaretto (both favourites) make these sound irristable! I have my fruit marinading in cointreau ready to bake today so think I will pop some of these in the oven aswell.
    I can’t believe Christmas is only a few weeks away – it is our final one in our current home after many so we are all feeling sentimental. The Christmas cooking (and eating) will cheer us up!

    • Thanks so much lovely, I appreciate it! Ah, fruit marinating in Cointreau? Sounds divine!!! I think I could just eat that on its own with some good vanilla ice cream. Yum. Good luck in the pre-Christmas rush and the upcoming move. I know you will make many more wonderful memories in your new place. It’s always hard to close a chapter in life, I will be thinking of you! x

  7. I am impress by those good looking cookies Laura, but I am especially impressed of your use of the word “til”. It really does my head in when people spell it “till” when it is an abbreviation for “until”. That is seriously one of my hates in this world. That’s all :)

  8. Oh these look delicious, Laura. Anything containing butter, chocolate, and almond meal is bound to be delicious, but the way the ingredients are put together is what makes it special, and your shortbreads look perfect! I wish I could enjoy a second summer instead of the gloomy, cold winter we are experiencing these days in Northern France! And I am way behind on everything… no presents, no cards, no baking, and no thinking about it either! Oh well, around December 20th I’ll start panicking… as usual! Happy holidays!

    • Thanks so much Darya, you are so lovely! I did have fun making these cookies, it’s always nice when something looks as good as it tastes! Take care and have a great pre-Christmas week (we can panic together, argh!) xx

  9. Can we talk about the fact that I love you even more for sneaking alcohol even into our cookies? I’ve never been into shortbread but I must make these. I must.

    • Hahahaa… yes indeed! Though I’d rather have gin on any given day! I do love some good shortbread in the lead up to Christmas but I never make it at any other time of year. Hope that you like these if you do make them! xx

  10. I want me some cookies… with that coffee I had this morning… but I want these cookies… Understand where I’m coming from? :)

  11. Yippee for Christmas and cookies and Christmas cookie week!

    Yippee for total and utter disorganisation and lack of presents and turkeys and fir trees with only 2 weeks to go!

    If it’s any consolation (which it probably isn’t) I’m not doing well in the preparation department either. I seem to have developed a beast of a craving for upcycling and serious crafting in the last two months. Now Laura, trust me: this is all very well if you choose one or two crafts to try and stick to them, but it’s really not so great if you want to make EVERY LITTLE THING you see on Pinterest. Argh. So I’ve filled our already totally hectic home (in state of chaos due to the move) with second hand buys and wool and paint and craft glue and scrap paper and old picture frames and ohmygoodnessyoudon’twanttoknowwhatelse and the parents are patiently standing back and hiding nervous glances from me as I wield brushes and sandpaper in a kind of mad scientist way.

    And I don’t think any of the things will be done for Christmas.

    So yep. I’m a bit behind. I think the best thing would be to go back to just doing the cooking. Keep things a bit simpler. Make your cookies and write. Right?


    • Hahaha… oh no! I would come and help you to organise your stash but alas, I am now in another hemisphere. Very sad, methinks. Whilst you’re moving, why don’t you move a little further and come over here? I can only dream. As for the beautiful process of upcycling… I am looking forward to seeing more of your crafts (and foraging) when you get settled. Love you to bits!
      Thanks for making me feel a little better about being in a pre-Christmas mess. I still have SO much to do! xxx

  12. Laura, I’m sure my condition of Christmas chronic disorganization is way worse than yours! Other than buying tickets to visit my parents and having coincidentally eaten a bit of turron, I have done nothing to prepare for Christmas. Ok,.. I’ve practiced the piano a lot for this Friday’s piano Christmas party. Does that count??
    I love how your biscuits look. I always admire biscuits like these because making them into those beautiful shapes require patience! xxx

    • Haha, ah dear. Yes, the piano practice definitely counts!!! I guess we can only handle one event at a time and for me, I needed to do a few things before getting on to the prep for our own family Christmas. Or at least that’s what I tell myself, anyway… GOOD LUCK lovely, we will get there! xx

      • Oh but this week I’ll be in Madrid all week then the week after I’ll be over at my parents. So I really feel like I’m preparing xmas nothing, boohoo! ;) xx

  13. As a lover of all things shortbread, Laura, I simply cannot wait to give this recipe a try. The addition of Amaretto and chocolate drizzle means that I’ll be making them far sooner than later. Honestly! :)

    • Thanks so much John! I appreciate it so much! I was definitely inspired by the Italians in my life, I visited a beautiful Nonna last week who still makes her own wine and tomato sauce in her eighties (and her husband makes wine from their own grapes). Hope that you’re enjoying the lead up to Christmas :)

  14. Honestly, girl, you’ve baked cookies… so you’re TOTALLY not behind on Christmas preparedness! These are gorgeous, and I bet they taste even better than they look because shortbread is one of my favorite holiday cookies… and the addition of hazelnuts and chocolate will only make them better!

    Thanks so much for participating in this year’s Christmas Cookie Week AND for all the sweet words you’ve shared! (Confession: I’m only on my planning game because I’ve got less than three months to get ALL THE THINGS done before Lady Baby arrives, haha!) I’m so happy to have you on board and to have a blog friend like you!

    • Haha, thanks so much lovely! I was SO looking forward to being part of Cookie Week so I am glad that I got my act together in time! Take care and I hope the next three months go amazingly xxx

  15. Wow your summer is hot and dry? It rains and crazy storms everyday, I swear! Australian weather what do we do with you?
    And yes, who could believe Christmas is so close to us?
    Looks like I better start eating… um baking your delicious cookies to share… yes… :P

    Choc Chip Uru

    • Oh, seriously? It’s very different here in WA I guess. Always dry. Well, almost always :) Hope that you are having a great break and that Christmas prep is going smoothly! xx

  16. same laura, i can’t believe it’s almost 2015! how cray! this year has gone so fast
    and what a great way to celebrate christmas with these cookies – yum!
    love how you jazzed it up with almond meal, Amaretto liqueur and chocolate – you go galfriend!

  17. Ok, so where is the almond meal in the recipe? I only see hazelnut meal, trust me to notice, right? :)
    Hazelnut meal or almond meal, these are gorgeous. I actually like the idea of hazelnuts more than almonds, I was excited when I saw that in the ingredients!
    Maybe thats how I’ll make them ;)
    Have fun shopping, lovely!


    • Oh you are amazing Nazneen, that was a mistake as I was originally going to use hazelnut meal and hazelnut liqueur – I’ve changed it now but I do think that the hazelnut version would be just as delicious! Let me know if you try the alternative? Thanks for the lovely words, hope that you are having a calm and organised lead up to Christmas xx

  18. Two summers, two autumns and a warm, sunny Christmas?! Your seasons have been so different from mine, Laura. These shortbread cookies reminded me that I haven’t had shortbread yet this holiday season. I will definitely have to change that! xo.

    • It’s weird isn’t it Kate? I seriously struggle with the idea of switched seasons. As I’m English-born, I typically hated the hot Australian Christmas (I spent every Christmas in the UK until I was about 14) but I am starting to appreciate the laid back, healthy and light nature of Summer Christmas fare. Sending you hugs beautiful! xx

    • Thanks so much beautiful – haha, it was kind of nice but returning home mucked up my equilibrium a little bit (the cold to hot contrast, argh!). Hope that you are having a beautiful December! xxx

  19. Oh awesome! I’m in Scotland now and yes, shortbread seems to be the thing :) So much Christmas cheer that I get to witness but I’m excited to get back home for the holiday as well :) These look lovely! My travels have actually inspired me to make some type of shortbread cookies too so I might whip up something when I’m back home :)

    • Hello lovely! Ah, how are you!? I’m missing the UK now that we are back home. There’s nothing like eating shortbread IN Scotland but I guess this is the next best thing ;) Have fun on the remainder of your trip, I look forward to seeing your shortbread adventures! xx

      • I am doing great, thank you! Glad you stopped by my blog :) I am going to try to find a cafe with some yummy shortbread tomorrow. I am in Stirling now.

  20. Pingback: Christmas Cookie Week 2014: Final Cookie Round-Up! » The Speckled Palate

  21. I just love shortbread, dear Laura, and yours looks and sounds amazing with that amaretto twist. Wish you and Aaron a wonderful time until Christmas – so funny to hear that you are at summer’s peak while we have a first period of frost behind us :-) (however no snow yet). Best and hugs!

  22. The way you write about Christmas is so beautiful Laura! “Glasses will clink, presents will be opened and carols will be sung around gilded trees” – it just so perfectly captures the celebrations of the season :)
    These cookies would be popular in my house. We Danes have a predilection for the sweet, dark, almondy flavoured things of the world. Can’t wait to try a GF version and share them with my Mormor too!

    • Aw, thanks lovely. I do love to write and it’s wonderful that you enjoy reading it too ;) Hope that you enjoy the cookies if you get a chance to try them – I adore the almond and chocolate combination, so delicious. Hugs xx

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