1/2 cup blanched almonds or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 pound sweet, unsalted butter
1 pound plus 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
1 jigger cognac
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Melt the butter and place in refrigerator to cool until soft but not entirely solid. Add 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar and beat at high speed for 45 minutes. Butter should be very, very pale, almost white. Continue to beat, adding in egg yolks, cognac and vanilla. Remove bowl from stand mixer and stir in nuts, cake flour and baking powder. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If the dough is sticky, continue adding flour a few tablespoons at a time. Shape about a tablespoon of dough into a ball or crescent, place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 F for about 15-20 minutes. Cookies should not get more than a scant color. Remove cookies from pan to cooling rack. Sift powdered sugar over the cookies. After cookies cool, roll each one in powdered sugar. Repeat the rolling in sugar procedure a second time. Place each cookie in a muffin cup for serving.

These cookies keep extremely well when stored in an airtight container and kept in a cool spot. If you store them, refresh with a bit of sifted powdered sugar.

Note: Originally posted in 1996 by "BesBaklava" to the now-defunct Holiday Cookie Club at Epicurious.com. Bes says this recipe: "took an honorable mention in this year's Chicago Tribune Christmas Cookie Contest, judged by none other than Julia Child!"

Photo by susansimon under Creative Commons license

Country of Origin: Greece

For more great recipes like this one, be sure to visit http://www.christmas-cookies.com