The word "short" in the recipe title is a promise of melt-in-your mouth tenderness. That's the butter doing its job.
- 2/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/2 cup raw almonds with skins, plus 18 whole almonds for decorating
- 1 3/4 sticks (7 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg white, beaten
- Special Equipment: 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, 9-inch cake pan or 9-by-9-inch baking pan
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Blend and pulse the sugar and 1/2 cup almonds in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse sand. (If there are a couple small chunks of nuts, that's fine.) Add the butter, vanilla and almond extracts and the salt, and pulse until creamy. Add the flour and continue to pulse to make a soft dough.
Turn the dough out into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom and spread it evenly with an offset spatula. Dip the spatula in a little warm water to help smooth and even the surface of the shortbread. Cover and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.
Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and pierce the dough all over with a fork. Generously sprinkle the top of the shortbread with sugar. Toss the whole almonds in the egg white. Evenly arrange and press the nuts into the dough around the edge of the pan. Bake until golden brown and set, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Cool the shortbreads on the rack completely. Carefully remove the tart ring and cut the shortbread with a sharp knife into wedges, each with a nut. (Alternatively, present the shortbread as one large cookie. Cool the shortbread in the pan completely, remove the tart ring and serve. Cut the shortbread into wedges as desired.)
Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days.