Recipe: Brown Sugar-Almond Shortbread Cookies

There hasn’t been a lot of baking on this blog. Not like I used to. But I like to document when I try something new, so I can look back and remember, “Yeah! I baked that!”

I baked these shortbread cookies as a gift, because I wanted something simple, but special. A dessert, but not too sweet.

The recipe is from the cookbook, Baking, by Dorie Greenspan. It’s one of my favorite cookbooks ever. I’ve had the book for years and have a few tried and true recipes. I’ve decided to venture out a bit more and bake some of the other recipes in the book. There are so many to choose from!

For this recipe, I didn’t have pecans, so I used almonds. I cut the recipe in half, and used ground cardamom instead of cloves.

While my cookies aren’t as pretty as the ones in the book, I think they’re still pretty cute! And the taste is wonderful! I highly recommend trying them. They’re great as a gift. To bring to a brunch or an afternoon tea. Or just for yourself. If you try the recipe, let me know what you think!

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Brown Sugar-Almond Shortbread Cookies (Makes about a dozen cookies)
(Adapted version of Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies, from Baking, by Dorie Greenspan)


3/4 cup flour
2 T cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
pinch of ground cardamom
1 stick (1/2 cup) softened unsalted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ground almonds

Optional for dusting
2 T powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. crushed edible lavender


Place the butter in a medium sized bowl and microwave, just until it gets a little soft. Then add the rest of the ingredients (except the ones for dusting) and combine.

Use a rubber spatula to put the mixture in a gallon size resealable zipper storage plastic bag. Don’t seal it yet. Use your hands to shape the dough into a log, by pressing and rolling. When it seems to be the right shape, so it will slice into nice sized cookies, press the air out of the bag, seal it and put into freezer for about 45 minutes or so, until very firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet or two with parchment paper. Remove dough from the freezer and take out of the plastic bag. I wash plastic bags and reuse them until they break. It is Earth Day after all! Reuse and recycle!

Place the dough on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to slice into pieces. Put the pieces on the cookie sheets, then take a fork and prick each cookie twice.

Bake cookies for about 20 minutes. They should not brown.

In a small bowl, combine lavender and powdered sugar.  When you remove the cookies, sprinkle the powdered sugar lavender mixture on top while they are still hot. Let cool a bit and they’re ready to eat!

Earth Day is Today! Orange You Glad?

Oranges For Earth Day

Here’s to Mother Earth and all that she produces for us!

A few days ago, I read an article about how plastic is harming the planet. Not a new concept. But this particular article focused on how banning plastic straws is becoming more popular around the world. It’s not enough to solve the plastic problem on the planet, but it’s a start.

Australian scientists Denise Hardesty and Chris Wilcox estimate, using trash collected on U.S. coastlines during cleanups over five years, that there are nearly 7.5 million plastic straws lying around America’s shorelines. They figure that means 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws are on the entire world’s coastlines.

While I recycle and reuse, it’s not enough. I’m still contributing to the overall pollution problem on the earth. I have plastic straws at home and have to remember to buy paper straws next time. I don’t use many, mostly just when I have smoothies, but every bit counts!

Are you doing anything special to celebrate Earth Day?

Boston’s Latest Crafty Girl Craze: Terrariums

Many terrariums and plants on a table for workshop.

Spring is finally here. It’s National Park Week and tomorrow is Earth Day. So it’s the perfect time to think about all the beauty of the earth.

Many of us don’t want to only enjoy the beauty of trees and plants when we’re outdoors, but we want to bring the lush greenery inside as well. I’ve been blessed with a green thumb and have plants and trees growing quite nicely in my apartment. Tending my plants is very relaxing and a kind of meditation for me.

It seems that I’m not the only one who feels this way about plants, because a new zen trend that I see growing 😀 is terrariums.

Trident Booksellers on Newbury Street has a weekly “Plant Nite” where you can build terrariums and enjoy food and drinks.  But it’s not the only place. Plant Nite, similar to Paint Nite, brings people together at different restaurant venues all around the Boston area where they can drink and go home with a terrarium.

Niche, focuses on urban garden supply and is located on Tremont Street in the South End. They encourage plant ownership and sometimes offer classes and workshops on terrarium building.

This Sunday morning, on April 24th, Shake the Tree, which is located on Salem Street in the North End, will be holding a terrarium building workshop along with mimosas and breakfast bites.

If you’d like to go west of Boston, on June 5th, Tovah Martin of Terrarium Wise will be speaking about terrariums and there will be a workshop as well. This event will be held at Brandt House B & B, located in Greenfield, Massachusetts and sponsored by the Greenfield Garden Club.

If you can’t make it to an event, or even if you can, maybe you’d like to wear a terrarium. Dara Cheek, of Hieropice, who I met at ASSEMBLED in Somerville, makes the cutest terrarium necklaces that you can buy from her Etsy shop.

You can also just make terrariums at home. West Elm gives a tutorial on making a tabletop terrarium. Sunset Magazine also gives some nice ideas for DIY terrariums.

Whatever way you choose to enjoy terrariums, you’re sure to have some fun!

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Flickr Photo Credit: Terrarium Workshop by Amy Gizienski