Holiday Almond cookies

Almond Cookies right, Italian Almond Paste and Pine Nut Cookies, Left

Almond Cookies right, Italian Almond Paste and Pine Nut Cookies, Left

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These are cookies hands-down one of the most popular and easiest holiday cookies to make. Some call them Russian tea cakes, others describe them as Mexican wedding cookies, and still others know them as Greek Christmas cookies.  I just know they are meltingly delicious. 

I make this in a food processor which makes it a snap as well as very easy to clean up. I usually make the cookies with almonds but I have used walnuts and pecans. All versions are very delicious.

I often serve these cookies at the end of holiday buffet with a large cheese platter and big bowls of seasonal Clementines. The fresh citrus is refreshing at the end of a meal  –especially one that ends late at night as my buffets often do.  I also have plates of rich chocolate truffles around for those who must have chocolate. I save elaborate cakes for more formal meals. Everyone seems to enjoy this more and I don’t find slices of half eaten cake all around the house. Almond cookies will keep an air tight container so you can make them in advance.

Preheat oven to 350F/175C

Chop by pulsing, so that it will not grind:

¾ cup almonds or walnuts

Add 1 cup/227 grams of softened butter

1 Tbsp .  / 28 grams good vanilla extract

¾ cup/90 grams icing sugar

 Beat until fluffy

Mix in 3¼ to 3½ cups /about 330 grams of all-purpose of flour

Add the flour until the dough is stiff but not overly dry — the amount will slightly vary according to the brand of flour you use.

Bake a test cookie to see if it holds its shape. If not, add a bit more flour.

Line two baking sheets with parchment

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and slightly flatten. Space them about 1½ inches apart.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Only the edges should begin to brown.

Cool.

Roll the cooled cookies in icing sugar.

Note: Parchment works better than silicone baking mats for these cookies. I flip and reuse the paper several times. I also chill the cookie sheets between batches and chill the dough before and between baking for lighter cookies.

If you want to make the cookies in advance, store them in an air-tight container; the high butter content will help them keep for weeks. But if you are not careful — they will get eaten!

The other cookies on the plate are Italian pine nut Amoretti, another holiday favourite. The recipe for these marzipan delights will be forthcoming.

You can put together your own cheese platter or have a cheese merchant do it for you.

I like to serve three cheeses from sweet to sharper in the same family and as well as one harder cheese with water biscuits for a dessert buffet.  During the holidays for large buffets I dispense with fancy fruit and serve Clementine and sometimes grapes if they are beautiful. More on cheese:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQBX93ioF7s

 

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