Posted by: Josey Lyne Payne, Esq. | July 15, 2011

One Easy Dough – Three Delicious Cookies

In organizing the house this summer (including the basement) Drin has finally put his foot down and demanded I purge my cooking magazines that date back (some) over a decade.  I love recipe magazines – the photos, the recipes – and the images the conjure up in my head about cooking and baking from my own family.  I have hundreds, maybe thousands, though.  I’ve been ripping out the recipes I just feel like I cannot part with, being honest with myself and only keeping those that I would definitely make, not simply “maybe I’ll try this”.  I made a deal, though – I do not have to throw out or purge any special editions (mostly Christmas editions) and that makes me happy.  Yesterday I rediscovered a “THE BEST OF fine Cooking Cookies” and was elated to look through and remember why I bought it in the first place.  I know I will make more than 80% of the recipes inside – that being said, I think I’ll post them here as I go.

One Easy Dough – Three Delicious Cookies is the first set of recipes in the magazine.  Quipped as a “versatile recipe” there is a master dough that, when additions are made or a new shaping method is implemented offers 3 different cookies.  The same almond flavored dough acts as a foundation for each of the 3 cookies:  Chocolate Thumbprints, Hazelnut Almond Crescents, Almond Sables.

Master Recipe – Almond Cookie Dough

Ingredients
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup whole almonds
1 1/2 cups butter, cut into large chunks and slightly softened
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups flour

Directions
Process the sugar and salt in a food processor until it looks powdery and a little finer, 30 to 60 seconds.
Add the almonds and process until they’re finely chopped, about 20 seconds.
Add the butter and the vanilla nd almond extracts.
Pulse until the butter is smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary.
Add the flour and pulse until a soft dough begins to form around the blade.
Transfer the dough to a large bowl and stir briefly with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s evenly mixed.
Portion the dough into equal thirds.
Make the variations (for different cookies) before chilling the dough.
Chill the dough.

Chocolate Thumbprints

Ingredients
1/3 batch of Almond Cookie Dough (master recipe)
1/4 cup coarse sugar, such as turbinado, demerara, or sanding sugar
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 teaspoons butter

Directions
Scoop up a generous teaspoonful of the dough and shape it into a 1-inch ball with your hands.
Roll the ball in the sugar and set it on a tray lined with waxed paper.
Repeat with the rest of the dough (should get approximately 24 cookies), setting the balls slightly apart.
Press a thumb or forefinger, dipped in flour, into each ball to create a depression.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.
Remove the cookies from the refrigerator and arrange them 1-inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees while you let the cookies sit at room temperature.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes.
Gently redefine the depressions with your thumb or tip of a wooden spoon’s handle if necessary.
Rotate the sheet and continue to bake until the tops are lightly colored and the bottoms are golden brown, another 8 to 12 minutes.
Transfer the cookies to a rack and let cool completely.
While the cookies cool, prepare the filling.
Put the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler.
When the chocolate is almost completely melted, remove the bowl from the heat and stir until completely melted and smooth.
Spoon the filling into each depression.
If the filling hardens while using, reheat it.

Hazelnut Almond Crescents

Ingredients
1/3 batch of Almond Cookie Dough
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and chopped medium coarsely
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Use your hands to work the hazelnuts into the dough.
Shape a tablespoon of the dough into fat crescents and put them in a container lines with waxed paper.
Cover and refrigerate the cookies for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
Arrange the crescents 1-inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees while letting the cookies sit at room temperature.
Bake the cookies until the tops are lightly colored and the bottoms are golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes, rotating the sheet at halfway point.
Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes and then sift the confectioners’ sugar over them.
Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Sift more confectioners’ sugar over the cookies before serving if necessary.

Almond Sables

Ingredients
1/3 batch of Almond Cookie Dough
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar

Directions
Use the back of a rubber spatula or large spoon to mash the 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar into the dough until it’s evenly dispersed.
On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a log about 6-inches long and 1 3/4-inch in diameter.
Wrap the log in waxed paper. 
Refrigerate the dough at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
Put the 1/4 cup turbinado sugar on a flat surface such as a tray or clean countertop.
Roll the log of dough in the sugar, pressing so the sugar adheres.
Cut the log into 1/4-inch slices and arrange them at least 1-inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees letting the cookies sit at room temperature during.
Bake until the edges are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
Let the cookies sit on the sheet for a minute or two before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

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