Sunday, December 18, 2011

Almond Semolina Cookies

These cookies improve with age (3 to 4 days). Ingredients:
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups pastry flour (8% protein)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup confectioners sugar, plus extra for coating
1 large egg yolk
1 T orange flower water (to make them Moroccan) or 1 T ouzo (to make them Greek)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
3/4 cup finely ground almonds (almond meal)

Preparing the cookies:
At least 2 to 3 days before you plan to make the cookies, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat without stirring. Lift off and discard the foamy top. Pour the clarified butter into a cup and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.

Sift the pastry flour and baking powder together, and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the chilled butter in a medium bowl at medium speed until very light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes (the more you beat, the lighter the cookie). Gradually beat in 7 tablespoons of the confectioners sugar; beat for 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk and beat for 2 more minutes. Add the orange flower water, vanilla, and almond extract; beat for another minute. Carefully fold in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula, stirring always in the same direction, then gently fold in the almond meal. The dough will be quite soft. Refrigerate, wrapped in waxed paper, until the dough is cold enough to shape into small balls, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Shape the dough into small round cakes about 1 inch in diameter and 1/2 inch high.
Place about 1/2 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes; the color should be pale, not brown. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack; immediately sift the remaining confectioners sugar over the cookies. Cool for 5 minutes.

Remove the cookies from the baking sheet and roll in additional confectioners sugar to coat them.

Store the cooled cookies in airtight tins for at least 2 days to mellow, or up to several weeks, before serving.

Makes about 36 cookies.


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