Raspberry Shortbread Bars

Raspberry Shortbread

When I was in Europe a few years ago shortbread was the one thing I looked for everywhere I went. Since we were on a tour bus we stopped often in little villages, and there was always a pastry shop nearby that I could pop into for a treat. In France I bought croissants with chocolate; in England I bought Cadbury bars with crispies (I still dream of these; they were just better over there); and in Scotland I fulfilled my yearning with the most perfect shortbread I've ever tasted.

It's true that you can buy tasty, imported shortbread in the U.S. - and I've done so quite often. It's a nice treat with a cup of coffee. As much as I'd like to say it's nice with a spot of tea, well, I don't really like hot tea all that much. Shortbread is a nice hostess gift, too, and it goes well with white wine after dinner, too, as I recently found out when I had some friends over.

Raspberries have really come into their own the past few years. You see raspberry tea, and you often see raspberries paired with chocolate. I've been known to buy a quart of fresh ones and eat them out of hand. And they paired really well with this shortbread, too! I actually used raspberry jam, which the recipe called for, but it was easy to find. Everybody asked what the flavor was, and as we sat around with a few bottles of vino I ended up constantly passing this bowl of shortbread around. One piece wasn't enough!

Raspberry Shortbread Bars
Adapted from Southern Living
Makes about six dozen pieces
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1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 (10-ounce) jar seedless raspberry jam
1.5 cups powdered sugar
3.5 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets or cover with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour.
3. Divide dough into six pieces. Roll each piece into a 12x1-inch strip. Place on baking sheets.
4. Make 1/2-inch-wide by 1/4-inch-deep indentation into center of each piece of dough, using the handle of a wooden spoon.
5. Fill indentations evenly with jam.
6. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and spoon more jam into indentations. Return to oven and bake five minutes more, or until just golden.
7. While shortbread is baking, whisk powdered sugar, water and almond extract. While shortbread is cooling but still warm, drizzle glaze over top. Cut each baked piece or shortbread into slices. Cool completely on wire racks before serving.