These buttery cookies are traditionally served at Christmas, and are given to guests at weddings and baptisms. They melt in the mouth. Handle gently, as they are fragile and the sugar flies everywhere.
¾ lb unsalted butter
2/3 cup finely chopped almonds
3 ½ tsp baking powder
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour sifted
½ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ lbs powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place rack in upper third of oven. Soften butter to room temperature and beat with ½ cup powdered sugar until creamy and white. Add egg and beat with electric mixer for five minutes. Add vanilla and optionally ¼ cup of brandy. Sift flour and baking soda together and add to butter mixture. Add nuts and work dough by hand. If needed add more flour to be able to mold cookies by hand (dough should not stick to sides of bowl). Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm enough to shape into balls, about 1 hour.
Pull off pieces of the dough and roll between your palms into generous 1-inch balls or into a crescent shapes. Space about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly brown on top and well browned on the bottom (14-18 minutes). Cool on racks for five minutes.
Place waxed paper on work surface and sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar. Gently place hot cookies on top of sugar and sift additional powdered sugar on top of cookies to cover completely. Allow to cool before serving. Can be frozen but may require a new application of sugar for serving after freezing.
Makes about 4 dozen small cookies.