Smitten Kitchen’s Classic Shortbread

Shortbread is pretty irresistible. Typically, recipes are only subtly different. I wanted to try this version because it resulted in a tender cookie, incorporated vanilla bean paste, and because it was Deb Perelman’s favorite.

The cookies were definitely more tender than any other shortbread I’ve made in the past. This is the result from using confectioners’ sugar instead of granulated sugar and from the semolina flour.

I made them for our St. Patrick’s Day dessert. Deb Perelman re-posted the recipe when the new Ted Lasso season began. 🙂 The recipe was adapted from smittenkitchen.com. I liked the cutting and shaping method. I weighed all of the dry ingredients.

Yield: about 24 cookies

  • 2 sticks (1 cup/230 grams/8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 80 grams (2/3 cup) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or almond extract or lemon or orange zest or extracts)
  • 250 grams (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 45 g (1/4 cup) semolina flour
  1. Heat your oven to 300°F. (I set my oven to convection.)
  2. Line an 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper. (No need to grease.)
  3. In a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt together, scraping frequently, until butter is soft. (see note below for alternatively using a food processor)
  4. Add flavoring of choice and flour, and mix just until combined, scraping down the bowl again. This is the same order as for a hand mixer, but with a hand mixer, you’ll want the butter semi-softened first.
  5. Add dough to the prepared baking pan in chunks. Use hands to press evenly into the pan, then an offset spatula or the base of a measuring cup to smooth the top.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven to cut into shapes. Leave oven on.
  7. Shape the cookies: For the 8-inch square pan: Repeatedly lay a bamboo skewer on the top of the cookie square to make an imprint to help you cut it into 3 even columns (about 2.5 inches wide) in one direction and 8 thin bars (just shy of 1 inch) in the other. Use the back of a wooden skewer to drag across the surface, making slightly indented lines first, then use a very thin, sharp paring knife to cut along these lines to the bottom of the pan. (For a 9-inch round pan: Use a 2 to 3-inch round cookie cutter or glass to cut the center. Then, use a skewer (explained above) to gently indent lines like sun rays or the hands of a clock from the inner circle to the outer edge of the cookie so that they’re your desired size wedges. Then use a very thin, sharp paring knife to cut along these lines to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Dock the cookies all over, about 1/3 deep, with the back of the skewer (for bigger dots) or the pointy end (for smaller holes).
  9. Return pan to the oven for another 25 to 35 minutes, until cookies have a deep golden edge but are mostly pale across the top. Watch closely in the last 10 to 15 minutes so they don’t over bake.
  10. Let cool in pan, or, if you’re impatient, let them cool for 10 minutes, and then remove them.

Note: In a food processor: Combine powdered sugar, salt, and flour in the work bowl, pulsing a few times. Add flavoring of choice and butter and pulse several times to chop the butter down into smaller pieces. Then, run the machine until it is fully incorporated, coming together in a smooth mass, 1 to 2 minutes more. Scrape down the bowl a few times for even mixing.

Do ahead: Shortbread keeps for 1 week, if not longer, at room temperature. It freezes well too, just wrap it tight.

Soft Stamped Gingerbread Cookies with Glaze

These soft gingerbread cookies were my daughter’s favorite in the assortment! I bought Nordic Ware snowflake cookie stamps after seeing them on the beautiful blog The View from Great Island.

The recipe was adapted from Ottolenghi’s dessert cookbook, Sweet, via theviewfromgreatisland.com. I modified the method using another post on the same blog that used cookie stamps.

I also used a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop instead of a 2 tablespoon scoop, resulting in less of the snowflake imprint being transferred. (I need a 2 tablespoon scoop!) I would also thin the glaze even more next time so that it would be more transparent, revealing more of the pattern of the stamp.

Alternatively, instead of the glaze, each cookie could be sprinkled with additional granulated sugar prior to baking.

Yield: 18 cookies (using 1 1/2 T scoop) (6 of each design)

For the Cookies:

  • 6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 packed cup plus 2 T (7 T) dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (5 T) molasses (do not use blackstrap, which is bitter)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 T Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

To Roll and Stamp:

  • small bowl of granulated sugar

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 T warm water, plus more for thinning
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Put your cookie stamps in the freezer to chill.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar, and molasses in a stand mixer (or with a hand held mixer).
  3. Beat in the egg yolk.
  4. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, beating on low until the dough comes together.
  6. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until all the floury crumbles are incorporated. Flatten the dough into a disk. I did not have to chill my dough before rolling, but if yours is very soft, you may want to.
  7. Use a medium (1 1/2 or 2 tablespoon) cookie scoop to portion out the dough.
  8. Roll the dough into balls and coat in granulated sugar.
  9. Stamp the balls of dough with your cookie stamp. Gently pry it off the cookie stamp by just nudging one corner. The cookie should come right off the stamp. (at this point, you can sprinkle the top with additional sugar if not making the glaze)
  10. Place the stamped cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes. (I placed them on a parchment paper-lined cutting board.)
  11. Place the cold cookies onto fresh parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
  12. Bake for 8-10 minutes. You don’t want to over bake these cookies, so do a test cookie or two to figure out the best timing for your oven. The cookies will be soft when you remove them from the oven, but will firm up as they cool.
  13. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the pan before carefully transferring to a rack to cool completely.
  14. When the cookies are cool, whisk the glaze ingredients together until they become a smooth thin glaze. Add more water if the glaze is too thick, it should have the consistency of maple syrup or a thin honey.
  15. Brush the cooled cookies with the glaze. You want the glaze to be thick enough to settle into the design for a beautiful emphasis. It will become more translucent as it dries.
  16. Let the glaze set up fully before serving or storing.

Nutmeg-Maple Custard Pie

Pie is the most important part of the Thanksgiving feast. I added this wonderful pie onto the menu in addition to our traditional apple and pumpkin pies. It may have to be a new tradition. 😉 Everyone tried a very small slice of each! Perfect.

The creamy nutmeg-maple filling was absolutely amazing. The crust was flaky and fabulous as well. We loved it!

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the pie crust. I made the par-baked crust two days in advance and baked the pie one day before Thanksgiving, refrigerating the pie overnight and bringing it to room temperature before serving.

Using extra pie crust from my apple pie, I cut out maple leaves and baked them to use as decoration on top of the finished pie. Nice.

Yield: One 9-inch pie, about 8 servings

For the Crust:

  • 150 g (1 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water, as needed
  1. In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt.
  2. Add butter and pulse until the mixture forms blueberry-sized pieces.
  3. Slowly add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough just comes together. It should be moist, but not wet.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk with the heel of your hand. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  6. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 13-inch round a scant 1/4 inch thick. (I rolled it out on a floured silicone pastry mat to about 1/8-inch thick.)
  7. Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie dish (I used a pottery pie dish). Fold the dough under itself and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate the pie shell for 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Crumple up a large sheet of parchment paper (this is a trick to allow it to fit more snugly in the pie dish). Line the pie shell with the parchment paper and then foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans.
  9. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake in the center of the oven until nearly set, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  10. Remove the foil and weights, discard the parchment, and bake until the crust is pale golden, about 10 minutes longer. Let cool completely. (I pre-baked the pie crust one day in advance.)

For the Pie Filling:

  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pre-baked 9-inch pie crust (recipe above)
  • whipped cream, for serving, optional
  • decorative pre-baked pie crust shapes, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. (I set my oven to true convection.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and egg. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce maple syrup by a quarter, 5 to 7 minutes. (It will boil vigorously- so use a tall pot and stir constantly.)
  4. Stir in cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
  5. Whisking constantly, slowly add cream mixture to eggs.
  6. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl with a pouring spout.
  7. Stir in salt, nutmeg and vanilla.
  8. Place pie dish on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet and pour filling into crust. Cover the edge of the pie crust with foil (or equivalent) to prevent over-browning.
  9. Bake until pie is firm to touch but jiggles slightly when moved, 45 to 50 minutes on convection, or about 1 hour in a standard oven.
  10. Let cool to room temperature before serving. Store in the refrigerator if making ahead of time; bring to room temperature before serving.

To Make (Optional) Pie Crust Topping/Decorations:

  • extra pie crust, rolled 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Using extra 1/8-inch thick pie crust (I used some from my apple pie), cut into desired shapes. I cut mine into small maple leaves.
  2. Chill cut shapes on a piece of parchment paper for 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Remove from refrigerator and place the parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Brust the top of each shape with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350 oven, preferably on convection, for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Dulce de Leche Swirl Ice Cream

After seeing authentic dulce de leche in the store, I felt compelled to make a caramel swirl ice cream using my new favorite vanilla ice cream base, from the French-Style Roasted Strawberry-Vanilla Ice Cream that I made earlier this season.

The vanilla ice cream recipe used in the base was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Fany Gerson. Dulce de leche is an ice cream flavor that everyone in my house enjoys. 🙂

For the Vanilla Ice Cream Base:

  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1 cup whole milk 
  • 1 vanilla bean pod 
  • 6 large egg yolks 
  • 5 T (1/3 cup) granulated sugar  
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

For the Swirl:

  • about 7 oz canned Dulce de Leche (I used Nestle La Lachera), or more, as needed
  1. Stir together cream and milk in a medium saucepan.
  2. Split vanilla bean pod lengthwise; scrape seeds. Add scraped seeds and vanilla pod halves to mixture in saucepan. Cook over medium-low, undisturbed, until mixture just comes to a simmer.
  3. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Return steeped cream mixture to heat over medium-low; cook, undisturbed, until mixture just comes to a simmer.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium-size heatproof bowl.
  6. Gradually whisk warm cream mixture into yolk mixture in bowl. (It’s important to slowly add the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly and never bringing to a boil, to ensure the eggs don’t scramble.)
  7. Transfer cream-yolk mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 6 to 10 minutes, making sure it doesn’t bubble. (I cooked mine for 7 minutes.)
  8. Remove from heat. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a medium-size heatproof bowl; discard solids.
  9. Place bowl in a large bowl filled with ice water. Let stand, stirring often, until mixture reaches room temperature, about 8 minutes. (I kept mine in the ice bath until the ice melted.) Remove.
  10. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or transfer base to a sealable container; seal and refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.
  11. Pour base into frozen freezer bowl of an ice cream maker; proceed according to manufacturer’s instructions. (I churned mine for 25 minutes.)
  12. Transfer a few scoops of the vanilla ice cream into a shallow container, such as a glass loaf pan, and spread into an even layer.
  13. Top with some of the dulce de leche; spread into an even layer. Repeat the layers, finishing with ice cream on top, until all of the ice cream base has been transferred.
  14. Cover, and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. (I press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream and then top the container with an additional sheet of plastic wrap.)
  15. Store in an airtight container in freezer up to 3 weeks.

Strawberry Cream Pie

This pie is an upgrade of classic strawberries and cream. It was simple and minimally sweet. The creamy pudding filling was flavored with vanilla bean- yum. I had originally planned to make it with our freshly picked berries but ultimately made it with store-bought berries. (I ran out!) The honey drizzle was essential to the presentation and to add a little sweetness.

The recipe was adapted from Food 52, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I made the crust and filling in advance and chilled each component separately until serving to ensure that the crust wouldn’t soften once assembled. I must note that the crust remained crisp the next day when we ate the leftover pie. I also used a ceramic deep dish pie pan. Next time, I would sweeten the filling a little bit more, noted below. I would also add salt to enhance the vanilla flavor.

This would be a wonderful dessert to serve on July 4th because the components can be made in advance. Nice.

Yield: One 9-inch pie

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed

For the Filling:

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided (adjust sweetness to your taste)
  • 1/3 cup (5 T) cornstarch
  • generous pinch of coarse salt, or to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 quart strawberries, hulled (or enough to cover the top of the pie)
  • 2 tablespoons wildflower honey

To Make the Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425Âș F, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl or in a food processor, combine the flour and salt.
  3. Add the butter and toss to coat. Cut the butter into the flour with your hands, or pulse in the food processor until the butter resembles the size of peas.
  4. Add the water and mix to combine. The dough should come together easily but not be wet or sticky.
  5. Wrap the dough and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s 1/8-inch thick. (I rolled it out between lightly floured parchment paper.)
  7. Transfer it to a pie plate, and trim the edges so there is only 1/2 inch of overhang all around. (I did not have this luxurious amount of excess crust because I used a ceramic deep dish pie plate.)
  8. Chill the dough inside the pie plate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  9. Fold the excess dough under at the edges, pressing gently to “seal” the dough to the pie plate. Finish the edges as desired.
  10. Poke the base of the crust a few times with a fork. If the dough seems warm, chill it again.
  11. Line the crust with parchment paper and pie weights, and bake until the crust is golden and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.
  12. Remove the parchment and pie weights and continue baking until the crust is fully baked, 5 to 10 minutes more. (I continued to cook the crust for an additional 8 minutes.)
  13. Cool completely. (After the crust had completely cooled, I covered it with plastic wrap and kept it at room temperature overnight. I chilled it the next day before assembling the dessert.)

To Make the Filling & Finish the Pie:

  1. Mix the milk, cream, vanilla bean, and 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of granulated sugar together in a medium sauce pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. (I used 1/4 cup granulated sugar this time but would use up to 1/2 cup next time.)
  2. While the milk warms up, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and eggs in a medium heat-safe bowl.
  3. When the milk comes to a simmer, gradually pour the hot liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to combine.
  4. Return the mixture to the pot and cook until the mixture is thick and comes to the “first boil” (one large bubble rising from the center of the pot, not many small bubbles around the edges).
  5. Whisk in the butter and pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust. Taste and adjust salt, if necessary. (I made the filling a day in advance and placed it in a glass bowl and refrigerated it overnight.)
  6. Cover the surface of the pudding directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fully chilled, at least 3 hours. (I chilled the pie crust for at least 3 hours prior to assembling and serving the pie as well.)
  7. To finish the pie, top the pie with the hulled strawberries.
  8. Warm the honey in the microwave or over medium heat, and when it’s runny, brush it over the strawberries.
  9. Serve the pie chilled. (not too chilled- let it warm up slightly so that the flavors shine through!)

French-Style Roasted Strawberry-Vanilla Ice Cream

This is the most amazing strawberry ice cream I’ve ever experienced. The original recipe states that “the key to French-style ice cream is making a base so good you could eat it without freezing it.” The base was incredibly creamy and rich. The roasted strawberries had concentrated flavor and a perfectly tender texture. Wow.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Fany Gerson. I loved that the vanilla bean steeped in the cream for an hour before being removed. My finished ice cream had a bit of a custard swirl because I didn’t fully mix the roasted berries into the custard before churning- still delicious but I would correct this next time.

To celebrate my birthday, my daughter made pizzelle bowls for serving the ice cream. It was a very special celebratory dessert and perfect way to use our freshly picked strawberries this season.

Yield: Serves 8

For the Roasted Strawberries:

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, stemmed and halved if small or quartered if large (about 3 1/2 cups) 
  • 2 T granulated sugar  
  • 2 T light corn syrup or golden syrup 
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt 

For the Vanilla Ice Cream Base:

  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1 cup whole milk 
  • 1 vanilla bean pod 
  • 6 large egg yolks 
  • 5 T (1/3 cup) granulated sugar  
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt 

To Make the Roasted Strawberries:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Toss together strawberries, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a 13×9-inch baking dish. (I used a glass pyrex baking dish.)
  3. Roast in preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until strawberries are soft and darker in color and juice is thickened, 30 to 40 minutes. 
  4. Using a potato masher, lightly crush strawberries in baking dish, making sure you have a chunky mixture.
  5. Let cool completely, about 1 hour. Transfer to a resealable container, and refrigerate until ready to churn or up to 2 days.

To Make the Vanilla Ice Cream Base & To Finish:

  1. Stir together cream and milk in a medium saucepan.
  2. Split vanilla bean pod lengthwise; scrape seeds. Add scraped seeds and vanilla pod halves to mixture in saucepan. Cook over medium-low, undisturbed, until mixture just comes to a simmer.
  3. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Return steeped cream mixture to heat over medium-low; cook, undisturbed, until mixture just comes to a simmer.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium-size heatproof bowl.
  6. Gradually whisk warm cream mixture into yolk mixture in bowl. (It’s important to slowly add the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly and never bringing to a boil, to ensure the eggs don’t scramble.)
  7. Transfer cream-yolk mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 6 to 10 minutes, making sure it doesn’t bubble. (I cooked mine for 7 minutes.)
  8. Remove from heat. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a medium-size heatproof bowl; discard solids.
  9. Place bowl in a large bowl filled with ice water. Let stand, stirring often, until mixture reaches room temperature, about 8 minutes. (I kept mine in the ice bath until the ice melted.) Remove.
  10. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or transfer base to a sealable container; seal and refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.
  11. Stir together strawberry mixture and ice cream base in a bowl.
  12. Pour mixture into frozen freezer bowl of an ice cream maker; proceed according to manufacturer’s instructions. (I churned mine for 25 minutes.)
  13. Transfer to a shallow container, such as a glass loaf pan, cover, and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. (I press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream and then top the container with an additional sheet of plastic wrap.)
  14. Store in an airtight container in freezer up to 3 weeks.

Toffee Sandwich Cookies with Almonds & Brown-Butter Buttercream Filling

WOW. My daughter declared that these are the best cookies I have ever made!

They are composed of crispy and crunchy, thin toffee cookies sandwiched with fabulous brown-butter buttercream. The filling is the perfect complement to the toffee flavored cookies.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sohla El-Waylly. I modified the method and increased the amount of filling. I also used toffee with chocolate- now I’ll have to try them without as well. Amazing!

The original recipe notes that these cookies are ideal for shipping and sharing because they have a long shelf life. They didn’t last very long in my house! 😉

Yield: 34 to 36 sandwich cookies

For the Cookies:

  • 227 g (about 1 1/2 cups) English toffee bits, preferably without chocolate (such as Heath Bits O’Brickle)(I used Trader Joe’s Toffee Chips with both dark and milk chocolate, coarsely chopped)
  • 112 g (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 3 T (42 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, white and yolk separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups (224 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) sliced almonds, or more, for garnish

For the Brown-Butter Buttercream Filling:

  • 16 T (227 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp plus a pinch Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/8 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 320 g (2 2/3 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To Make the Cookies:

  1. In a food processor, process the toffee bits, sugar, baking soda and salt until the toffee is mostly ground and the mixture is sandy, about 1 minute.
  2. Transfer the toffee mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer).
  3. Add butter, egg white and vanilla. Mix together with the paddle attachment on medium until creamy and fluffy, stopping once to scrape the bowl and paddle, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add flour, and mix on medium-low until the mixture comes together into a soft dough, about 30 seconds.
  5. Divide the dough in half. Pat each half into a disk. Wrap and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes before proceeding. (I wrapped each disk in plastic wrap.)
  6. Dust a piece of parchment paper and dough with flour. Top with a second piece of parchment paper.
  7. Working with one piece of dough at a time, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick between the two sheets of parchment (the thickness of two stacked pennies), turning the dough frequently to ensure it moves freely, dusting with more flour as needed. Each sheet of dough will be about the size of a standard sheet of paper.
  8. Place the dough on a flat surface (I used a cutting board) and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  9. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter dusted in flour, cut out cookies from one sheet of dough. Using an offset spatula, transfer rounds to a parchment paper lined rimmed sheet pan, placing another sheet of parchment paper between layers. (I stacked the rounds between sheets of plastic wrap but it was slightly difficult to remove them once frozen- parchment paper seems like a better plan.)
  10. Repeat with the remaining sheet of dough.
  11. Gather and knead together any scraps, refreeze and re-roll, repeating until all the dough has been rolled out for a total of about 68 to 72 cookies.
  12. Wrap the rounds of dough on the sheet pan with plastic wrap; freeze on sheet trays for at least 30 minutes before baking. (Alternatively, once the cookies have firmly frozen, stack them between parchment in a freezer-safe container or zipper-lock bag for up to 3 months.)
  13. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees. (I used the convection setting.)
  14. Whisk together the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and evenly brush on the tops of half (34 to 36) of the chilled cookies.
  15. Sprinkle the yolk-brushed cookies with almonds, pressing gently to adhere.
  16. Bake the cookies until deeply browned like a pretzel, switching the sheet trays from top to bottom and rotating from front to back halfway through, 10 to 14 minutes. (I simultaneously baked 3 pans of 12 cookies each for 10 to 11 minutes on convection.)
  17. Bake the remaining cookies (without almonds) at the same temperature for the same duration.
  18. Let cookies cool completely on the sheet pans.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Set a piping bag in a tall and narrow container, like a deli quart container, and fold over the top edge to secure.
  2. Flip over the cookies without almonds. (You need to pipe the icing onto the cookies immediately after mixing, so make sure you are set up.)
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until foamy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Continue cooking butter, stirring and scraping frequently with a stiff silicone spatula, until the sputtering has subsided and the butter solids look deeply browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the butter and any brown bits into the bowl of a stand mixer (or into a large bowl if mixing by hand).
  5. Stir in the vanilla and salt.
  6. Sift over the powdered sugar.
  7. With the paddle attachment, mix on low until creamy and combined, about 1 minute, stopping once during mixing to scrape the bowl and the paddle. (You can also mix with a stiff silicone spatula until creamy and combined.)
  8. Transfer the icing to the piping bag and cut a 1-inch wide opening at the tip. (I used a round piping tip instead.) The icing will be warm and fluid.
  9. Pipe a scant tablespoon of filling onto a flipped cookie and immediately top with an almond-topped cookie.
  10. Gently press to adhere so that the filling reaches the edges of the cookie.
  11. Repeat with remaining cookies and icing. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

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