Starwiches

  • ¾ cup almonds
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 12 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup sparkling sugar
  • 1 cup red currant jelly (Dorian makes her own!)

If almonds still have their brown skins on, bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a medium saucepan, then drop the almonds in and simmer 1 minute. Drain and pop each almond out of its skin. Pulverize until fine as dust in a food processor; add ⅓ cup of the sugar and grind a bit more.

Cream the butter with a mixer; add the remaining sugar, almond mixture, salt and extracts, and mix until pale. Work in the flour until cohesive. Divide dough into quarters, and roll each blob out to a 1/8th-inch thickness between squares of wax paper (about an 11-inch circle). Stack and chill for an hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Find a 3-inch star-shaped cutter and a ½-inch star or circle. Working quickly while the dough is cool and firm, haul one sheet of dough out of the fridge and place on the counter. Pull off the top piece of wax paper, then replace it loosely and flip the whole thing over. Zip off that other sheet of paper and cut large stars.

Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet, ½ inch apart, and bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until bottoms are pale golden. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to rack to cool thoroughly. Meanwhile, repeat with another dough slab, cutting out the same number of large stars, but then removing their centers with the small cutter. Brush these top-cookies with lightly beaten egg white, and sprinkle with sparkling sugar, tamping it into place. Continue thus, aiming for an even number of sparkly perforated tops and pale golden bottoms. (Mash together, wrap and chill the interstellar trimmings; then reroll and cut for more cookies.)

To assemble, simmer the jelly, stirring, in a small saucepan for 2 minutes, then allow to cool until just warm. Spoon ½ teaspoon jelly onto the centers of the totally cooled cookie bottoms, and gently ease the tops into place. Top up jelly as needed. Store, layered with wax paper in an airtight canister, up to 3 days.

Makes about 60 cookies.

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