Shortbread Jelly Bites

Here’s a versatile shortbread cookie you can fill with any flavor of jelly or jam you prefer. I like this recipe because by baking the jelly filling (rather than adding it after you bake), you make the cookie much easier to freeze, ship, etc. I’ve nicknamed these “jelly eyes” because they’re so perfect and round with shiny centers!

1 C. softened butter (no substitutions)
2/3 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 C. flour
1/3 to 1/2 C. jelly or seedless jam

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the extract and gradually add the flour until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in wax paper and chill at least an hour, or up to 3 or 4 days, if that’s more convenient.

Preheat oven to 350º. Roll dough into 1” balls. Place balls on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and carefully make an indentation in the centers with the end of a wooden spoon. Fill with jelly, and bake 12-14 minutes or until firm (I don’t let mine get even slightly brown). Cool on a rack.

For a decorative variation, make a glaze of 1 C. powdered sugar, 2-3 tsp. milk, and ½ tsp. almond extract. Tint with paste coloring, if you like. Carefully spoon the glaze into a pastry bag with a small round tip and then zig-zag the glaze over the tops of the cooled cookies.

Kitchen Hint: When I’m making the indentations in the dough balls, I “wiggle” the wooden spoon a bit so the top of the indention is wider—but don’t let the dough crack. Then I spoon the jelly into a pastry bag with a large round tip and squeeze it into the holes before baking, to keep the jelly nice and neat.

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