"Almond Joy" Shortbread Cookies


Yield:  approx. 2 1/2 doz. cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar, that has been whizzed in the food processor for 30 seconds
1/4 tsp. salt
16 TBS unsalted butter, at cool room temperature ( 2 sticks cut into 8 pcs each ) 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp imitation coconut flavoring
2 TBS ( 1 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature ( I used light)
1/2 cup shredded coconut, that has been whizzed in food processor for 30 seconds
1 cup milk or semisweet chocolate chips, or similar melting chocolate
1 cup sliced and roasted almonds

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  
2.  In the bowl of a standing mixer, with the paddle attachment on, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Let mix on low speed until combined.  With mixer running on low, drop butter in by TBS one piece at at time until all butter is incorporated and the mixture looks slightly wet and crumbly.  Add in the vanilla, coconut flavoring, and the cream cheese.  Mix on low until it comes together into a smooth ball.  ( it will...like magic!)  Add in the coconut until just combined. 
3.  With hands, roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. With palm of hand, flatten each ball into a disc.   Bake one batch at a time in oven until lightly browned on bottoms, about 12 minutes.  Remove to wire rack and allow to cool.  
4. Melt the chocolate in microwave at 50% - 70%  power or over a double boiler on stove.  If you are using chips, you might want to add a little shortening to loosen up the chocolate.   Dip or spread the melted chocolate on the tops of the cookies then sprinkle with a bit of the almonds.  ( you may not use all the chocolate or the almonds)  Allow chocolate to set before storing.  These cookies freeze well.