Almond Shortbread Cookies (Mantecaditos)

Tis the season to celebrate! 
We wait all year long for this time of year and then it is over in a
blink of the eye.  I try to relish every
moment and not rush any day.  When I
think of the holidays many things come to mind – sparkling lights, holiday
decorations, parties, festive cocktails, spending time with family and friends
and cookies.  Yes, the last one I
mentioned is cookies.

I like to bake cookies year round, but at this time of year
there is something extra special about baking. I enjoy trying new recipes along
with traditional time tested favorites. 
I went to our 4th annual food blogger cookie exchange on
Saturday with some of my favorite Bay Area food bloggers who I can honestly say
are truly great friends.  We had a
gourmet potluck and everyone out did themselves this year with the assortment
of cookies that they baked and packaged up so beautifully. In addition, I
participated again in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and have received my 3
dozen cookies from three terrific food bloggers. Keep an eye out for a post
coming soon on both of the above mentioned events.

Speaking of cookies and celebrations, this month’s theme for
Blogger C.L.U.E. Society is anything having to do with celebrating.  I was paired with Lauren from Sew You Think YouCan Cook.  She resides in Ohio
with her hubby and two sons.  She left
her job as an Aerospace Engineer to stay home with her first son and hopes of
becoming a caterer.  She love cooking,
quilting, cross stitch and blogging.  Lauren
played the violin, doesn’t care for the color pink, obsessed with Candy Crush,
fears roaches (I do too) and secretly wishes she was a Victoria Secret
Model. 
I had a blast browsing through Lauren’s blog to find just
the right recipe for the December them of celebration.  I kept coming back to cookies and had to
stick to my guns on that one.  After
looking through her recipe index, I was intrigued by the recipe for
Mantecaditos.  I had never heard of them
before, so that was half the fun and staying true to our club of the Blogger
C.L.U.E. Society.  I quickly learned that
they cookies are from Puerto Rico and are an almond
shortbread cookie that is extremely light and almost melt in your mouth. You
can use almond flour or all purpose, which I did. The key is to use your thumb
or a teaspoon to make an indent in the center and fill with colored sprinkles.  I used holiday colors to make it festive and
ready for a celebration.  I altered the
recipe slightly by increasing the almond extract, adding a touch of baking soda
and using 100% shortening.  Thank you
Lauren for a great recipe and introducing me to a new favorite cookie I will be
making for years to come.

Almond Shortbread Cookies (Mantecaditos)

Makes 24 Cookies

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

½ teaspoon Salt

¼ teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Cup Shortening

½ Cup Sugar

1 Egg Yolk

1 ½ teaspoon Almond Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment cream the
shortening and sugar together.  Add the
salt, baking soda and almond extract and mix. 
Next add the egg yolk and mix until combined.  Slowly add the flour until incorporated.

Use a small one inch cookie scoop to form one inch
balls.  Place a dozen on a prepared
cookie sheet and press flat and use a ½ round teaspoon to create a well in the
center.  Pour sprinkles in the well.  Bake for 8 to 12 minutes.  Remove carefully onto a wire rack to cool.  Enjoy!

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