Last months challenge I gave to my husband to take to work, this month I gave it to my dad, to take to his bridge evening :)
Makes about 40 2 inch cookies
1 cup 2 tablespoon (5.06 ounces)/145g unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) 63g ground almonds and/or hazelnuts
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces)/50g granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
8 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest or 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
Strained or pureed good quality preserves or fruit spread
1 teaspoon + extra Powdered sugar for dusting
Cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper
Large and small cookie cutters of the same or a different shape, such as a 2-inch square and
a ¾ inch square
Blanch almond and make powder with 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar like this.
In a bowl of kitchen aid stand mixer combine the flour, ground nuts, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves , almond extract and the lemon and orange zests or extracts . Then add the butter (cut into several pieces if firm) mix well until mixture looks damp and crumbly. Continue mixing until all the dough comes together. Remove the dough, press it into a ball, and knead it a few times to be sure all of the dry ingredients are blended into the dough.
Form the dough into 1 flat patty. Wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight or up to 3 days. The dough may be frozen for up to 3 months.
When you are ready to bake. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
To Roll and Cut Cookies:
Remove dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature until supple enough to roll but still quite firm. It will continue to soften as you work. Roll the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch between sheets of wax paper or between heavy plastic sheets cut from a plastic bag. Turn the dough over once or twice while you are rolling it out to check for deep wrinkles; if necessary, peel off and smooth the paper or plastic over the dough before continuing to roll it. When the dough is thin enough, peel off the top sheet of paper or plastic and keep it in front of you. Invert the dough onto that sheet and peel off the second sheet.
Cut as many large shapes as possible. Dip the edges of the cookie cutters in flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Cut a smaller shape from the center of half of the large shapes. Use the point of a paring knife to lift and remove scraps as you transfer the cookies to the lined pans. Place large cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. If the dough gets too soft at any time-while rolling, cutting, removing scraps between cookies, or transferring cookies-slide a cookie sheet underneath the paper or plastic and refrigerate the dough for a few minutes, until firm. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Gently press all of the dough scraps together (don't overwork them with too much kneading) and reroll.
Bake for 15 to 25 minutes , or until the cookies are just beginning to color at the edges. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. (The small shapes may be baked for 8 to 10 minutes on a separate cookie sheet to make miniature cookies, or the dough may be combined with other dough scraps to be rerolled and cut.)
Let the cookies firm up on the pan for 1 to 2 minutes. For lined pans, set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool; for unlined pans, use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to racks. Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing. The cookies are delicious fresh but even better the next day. May be kept in an airtight container for a month or more.
To assemble, shortly before serving, spread each solid cookie with a thin layer of preserves. Sift powdered sugar over the cookies with cutouts. Place a sugared cutout cookie on top of each preserve-covered cookie.
Leftover cookies can be stored in an airtight container, but the moisture from the preserves will soften them