These bars hold and abundance of fruit and nuts on a buttery shortbread base. Serving a platter full is a wonderful way to celebrate the season, and they also make a tasty homemade gift. I usually cut the cookie sheet into 24 pieces, but you can make them smaller. There’s a lot of flavor packed into each bar, so even a small piece can be very filling.
2 1/2cupsall-purpose flourplus more for rolling out
1/4teaspoonfine grain salt
Fruit and nut topping
1/2cupdried apricotsfinely chopped
1/2cupdried cherriesfinely chopped
14tablespoonsunsalted butter1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a large bowl, cream the unsalted butter with 1/2 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat to combine. Gradually add the flour and salt; mix well. The dough will be very soft.
Spread a sheet of 16x11 inch parchment paper on a work surface and dust with flour. Roll the dough out on the paper using a floured rolling pin to 1/4 inch thickness. Using a fluted pastry wheel or a large chef’s knife, trim the overhanging dough to about 15x10 inches, just inside the parchment paper. Transfer the dough on the parchment to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Leave the oven on.
Re-roll the scraps and cut 1” star shapes out; place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Chill the shapes for 5 minutes in the freezer then bake for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely and set aside for decoration.
Fruit and nut topping
Place the almonds, cranberries, apricots and cherries in a large bowl. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the unsalted butter, sugar, honey, and cream. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until the temperature registers 250°F on a candy thermometer. Remove pan from the heat and pour over the nut and fruit mixture. Mix well.
Using a spatula gently spread the warm topping over the shortbread crust. Bake (375F) until the fruit and nut topping is caramelized and the almonds are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and slice into squares while still warm. Top each square with some of the cut-out shortbread stars. Cool completely before serving.