Although the theme of tonight's Concert in the Park is beer (my Bass Ale and Hoisin Braised Short Ribs are getting ready to go in the oven), I have been craving something with apricots since seeing this eagerly awaited summer fruit in the produce aisle. I started searching for recipes and was instantly drawn to Apricot and Nut Cookies, by Giada De Laurentiis. Not only is she beautiful, but Giada knows how to make good use of Amaretto, one of my favorite Italian liqueurs.
This was also the perfect recipe to submit to Mansi at Fun and Food, who's hosting the June edition for SHF (Sugar High Friday) - Fruit & Nut.
I also learned apricots are one of California’s prized specialty crops - my Golden State produces over 95% of all the apricots grown in the United States!
The dough is filled with chewy dried apricots, toasted, slivered almonds, and toasted pine nuts
Once the dough is mixed, it is rolled into a log, wrapped in plastic wrap, and refrigerated until firm enough to slice.
The icing is a simple combination of confectioners' sugar and Amaretto...oh, but wait until you taste it!
The cookies are then bathed in the luscious icing and allowed to dry
Here they are, nestled in a cute little basket and steel blue napkin I found yesterday during our food photography props shopping spree!
Apricot and Nut Cookies with Amaretto Icing
Slightly modified from Giada De Laurentiis
(Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
5 tablespoons almond flavored liqueur, such as Amaretto
For the Cookies: In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg. Stir in the flour until just blended. Mix in the apricots, almonds, and pine nuts.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide it in half. Shape each half into a log, about 6 inches long and 1 ½ inches wide in diameter. Roll each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 2 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the dough log crosswise into 1/2 inch-thick slices. If the dough isn’t firm enough to slice cleanly, freeze for 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly apart. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, about 15-18 minutes.
I wanted the cookies perfectly round, so I used a round cookie cutter, just slightly smaller than the cooked cookies to cut the cookies when they were still hot out of the oven.
Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
For the Icing: Place the confectioners' sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in the almond flavored liqueur, until the mixture is of drizzling consistency.
Place the wire rack over a baking sheet. Using a spoon, drizzle the cookies with the icing, allowing any excess icing to drip onto the baking sheet. Allow the icing to set before serving, about 30 minutes.