Honeyed Almond-Cherry Shortbread

1 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped

2 T dry sherry

1 T finely grated orange zest

1/2 cup honey

1 cup plus 2 T unsalted butter, softened

2 cups lightly toasted sliced almonds

1 3/4 tsp course salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

2 1/2 cup flour

 

1. In a bowl, toss to combine dried cherries, sherry, and zest. Let stand about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, or refrigerated, covered, cup to 1 week.

2. Cook honey and 2 T butter in a saucepan over med-high heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and deep amber, about 5 minutes. Add almonds, 1/2 tsp salt, and the vanilla; stir to coat completely. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let cool 30 minutes, then coarsely chop.

3. Beat remaining 1 cup butter and the confectioners sugar with an electric mixer on med-high until pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add macerated cherries, and mix until combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour and remaining 1 1/2 tsp salt, and mix just until dough comes together. Add honeyed almonds, and mix just until combined.

4. On a piece of parchment, shape the dough into a 16-by-2 1/2-inch rectangular log, pressing edges with a ruler to shape. Wrap in parchment, and chill 1 hour or up to 2 days. (Dough can be frozen, wrapped tightly in plastic, up to 3 months; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.) Cut dough into 1/4-inch thick slices and arrange on parchment lined baking sheets. Chill 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are golden and set, 30-35 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on a wire rack. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.

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