Chinese Almond Cookies
The cookies pictured above were made with dried apricots as they were prepared for an event where the use of nuts was discouraged. In such a case, replace the almond extract with vanilla extract and any sort of dried fruit for the nuts.
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups shortening
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2/3 cup turbinado or raw sugar for rolling
1/2 cup blanched almonds or dried fruit
Heat the oven to 300 F.
Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Cream the sugar and the shortening. This can be done by hand or with an electric mixer. Add the almond extract and the egg to the sugar mixture. Add the dry ingredients. The mixture will become a smooth and supple dough.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. If you are not patient, go ahead and make the cookies. I have found that the refrigerated dough produces a much flakier cookie.
Use a teaspoon or parisienne scoop (melon ball-er) to form balls of the cookie dough. Roll until smooth.
Resist playing with the dough too much. the more you play with it, the tougher it will become. This is a result of vigorous working of the gluten in the flour.
Fill a small bowl with the turbinado, raw, or granulated sugar. Roll each dough ball in the sugar until coated.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the cookies approximately 1.5 inches apart.
Press 1 whole blanched almond in the center of each cookie. Be careful not to let the cookies break while pressing the almonds. If they do, just squish them back together.
Bake for about 12 minutes until just golden brown.
Cool thoroughly.