This recipe makes a delicate and markedly delicious cookie, and it has the added benefit of being very forgiving to the cook. The crumbly mixture comes together into a smooth, easy-to-work-with dough which can be rolled thin for petite, jelly-filled “sandwiches” (as is the case here), or thick for larger cookies to glaze or decorate with colored sugar.
If your grocery store doesn’t carry ground almonds, buy a two-ounce package of sliced almonds and grind them in a food processor, to yield the half-cup of ground almonds called for. If you don’t have superfine sugar on hand, use regular granulated sugar (or grind it in a food processor, if you like). The currant jelly can be replaced with raspberry jam or other fruit preserves, and pecans or walnuts can stand in for the almonds. Whatever you do, though, don’t substitute anything for the butter; it makes the cookies crispy-tender and its flavor is irreplaceable.
These little luxuries store very well and unlike most cookies, which taste best right after they cool, they are their best after some hours of “curing,” making them an ideal make-ahead treat.
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper (or use ungreased sheets). Place superfine sugar in a pie tin and set aside.
2. Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl until well combined. Cut the butter into small pieces. Use a food processor or pastry cutter to cut butter pieces into the flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in almonds and vanilla, then work the mixture with your hands until it forms a smooth ball.
3. Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the dough on a lightly floured pastry cloth or work surface until it is very thin (1/8- to 3/16-inch). Cut dough with a small cookie cutter into rounds or other simple shapes. Transfer to cookie sheets (cookies can be fairly close together, but not touching). Gather the scraps into a ball and set aside to prepare second batch of cookies when the first batch is done.
4. Bake cookies until very lightly colored, 8-10 minutes. When they come out of the oven and are still hot, place a scant teaspoon of currant jelly on half the cookies. The jelly will melt a bit; spread it with a finger to cover about 3/4 of the surface. Place a second cookie on top to make a sandwich. While the cookies are still warm, press them gently on both sides in sugar then roll them to sugar the sides.
5. Cool completely before serving. Store cookies airtight.
Copyright by Terese Allen