*Note: Use care when handling nettles. Their little stingers are not terribly dangerous, but they can cause a great deal of discomfort. I like to wear rubber gloves or use tongs to handle them...
Is it possible not to love a crunchy almond cookie tossed in powdered sugar? And, after thousands of years of refining various cuisines, honing cooking tools, and passing down culinary knowledge from one generation to the next, is it possible to forget everything else when in the presence of one of these cookies?
There are days when I am lucky enough to enjoy wild mushrooms, exotic fruits, or fabulous and complex preparations. These, however, are far from my mind when a plate of cookies is set before me. How indeed could I think of anything else?
In all seriousness, though, it seems that we have done little to improve upon the cookie in recent years. Of course, we have our overloaded monster cookies and organic whoopie pies, but the superb simplicity of the old-fashioned cookie jar (and the cookies therein) remain unbested.
Many of my favorite old cookie recipes involve ground almonds, or almond meal. Almond meal adds a superb flavor to baked goods without compromising the texture, as many gluten free flours do. However, almond meal also imparts lightness and crunch in cookies, which is part of the appeal of these almond crescents.
I found that these cookies improve in flavor over the period of a week, so feel free to make them ahead of time, and don't worry too much about their shelf life. Safely contained in an airtight tin, these lovelies will last for weeks.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease or line 2 cookie sheets.
Beat in a large bowl until creamy:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Add and beat until well combined:
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup ground walnuts or ground blanched almonds
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Stir in until well blended:
2 cups all-purpose flour
Chill the dough. Roll 1-tablespoon pieces of dough into short ropes to shape. Arrange about ¼ inch apart on the cookie sheets. Bake until crescents begin to brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool. Roll the cooled cookies in:
⅔ cup confectioners’ sugar