Ingredients (makes 18-20): 1 x 250g (9oz) unsalted butter, room temperature 100-150g icing or caster sugar 1 egg yolk (optional) 4 tablespoons brandy or ouzo A few drops of vanilla extract or 2 tablespoons rosewater 50-70g toasted almonds with skin on, coarsely chopped 50g cornflour 450g plain flour, sifted 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda For the topping: Rosewater for brushing or spraying Icing sugar Method: Pre-heat the oven to 170c / 325f / Gas mark3. Toast the almonds in the oven for 10-15 minutes or in a hot frying pan, cool completely and coarsely chop.
In a medium sized bowl or in a food mixer, cream the butter for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy, add the sugar and whisk for another few minutes, then add the egg yolk if you are using. Add brandy or ouzo and vanilla extract. (Do not use the whisk again) With a wooden spoon, gently start mixing the sifted flour, a bit at a time, followed by the cornflour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add the chopped almonds and mix lightly with your hand until the dough is smooth and firm and doesn’t stick on your hands (avoid working the dough too much as it will make the shortbread tough). Leave the mixture to rest for 10-15 minutes. Take walnut sized pieces of the dough, shape into oblongs and place on the baking tray lined with baking paper.
Continue with the rest of the dough, do not place them too close together as they will expand during baking. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes – do not allow the biscuits to brown, they should be light in colour. Remove the shortbread biscuits from the oven, cool for 5 minutes and while still warm, brush or spray them with rosewater. Allow to cool completely. When they have cooled down, sift icing sugar into a small bowl and carefully take the biscuits one at a time and coat completely with the icing sugar. Continue with the rest and place them on greaseproof paper and then sift with more icing sugar to cover them completely.
When cooled, store in airtight containers (wrapped if desired) – the flavour will improve after a few days. They can be stored in this way for up to a month.

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