I am a fool for explosively light, crunchy with nuts, and powdery with sugar coating cookies with a lingering taste of butter. Many nationalities have a variation on this theme, such as Mexican or Portuguese wedding cakes, both made with finely ground pecans, but it is the Greek version (pronounced koo-rahm-BYEH-thes) that pleases me the most, especially this one. After I thought I had perfected the recipe, my protégé and closest friend
|unsalted butter (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C)|
|pure vanilla extract||.||.|
|brandy, or orange juice, freshly squeezed and strained|
|bleached all-purpose flour|
|baking powder, preferably aluminum free (see Notes)|
|powdered sugar, for dusting|
Two 15 by 12 inch cookie sheets, no preparation needed or lined with parchment
Have ready a fine-mesh or cheesecloth-lined strainer suspended over a medium bowl, preferably silicone (see Notes).
In a medium heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. When the butter looks clear, cook, watching carefully, without stirring. Move aside any foam that forms in order to check the progress of the solids. (If necessary, skim off some of the foam and discard it.) As soon as the milk solids at the bottom barely begin to color (the bubbling will diminish), immediately pour the butter through the strainer into the bowl.
Chill the clarified butter until solid, about 2 hours. Refrigerate or freeze the milk solids for a future use.
Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and
Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and
Unmold the clarified butter onto a cutting board. (If not using a silicone container, dip the container into a bowl of very hot water for a few seconds, or until it can be unmolded.) Cut the butter into ½ inch cubes and set the cubes in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the 1 cup of powdered sugar and, starting on low speed, beat until the sugar mixes into the butter. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 10 minutes. The mixture will lighten in color and be very creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and brandy, and beat for 1 minute. Add the almonds and beat on low speed for a few seconds to combine thoroughly. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder and, on the lowest speed, add it to the mixture and beat just until incorporated, about 20 seconds. The dough will be soft and slightly tacky.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes to firm slightly.
Remove one-third (about
Set the cookie sheet on a wire rack. Lay a sheet of parchment on the counter and place another wire rack on top. Use a pancake turner to lift the cookies onto the other wire rack.
While each batch of cookies is baking, shape the dough for the next batch.
Spoon the powdered sugar for dusting into a sifter or fine-mesh strainer and coat the cookies. After giving the cookies a first coat, repeat, dusting them with a second coat so that they are heavily coated with the sugar. Let them cool completely. Lift away the rack and sift any remaining powdered sugar onto the parchment. Set the cookies on top of the sugar to coat the bottoms of the cookies.
Set the cookies in a container, dusting with powdered sugar between each layer of cookies. To keep moisture from softening the sugar and making it sticky, leave the container uncovered for 8 hours before covering it tightly. This will maintain the powdery sugar coating.
Airtight: room temperature, 1 month; frozen, 6 months (redust with powdered sugar).
Copyright © 2014 by Cordon Rose, LLC. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.