French Almond Butter Cookies

Makes 8 to 9 dozen 11/2-inch cookies. Recipe is from Love’n Bake: “This soft dough bakes into a fine-grained cookie, the kind sold in bakeshops piped into fancy shapes. For the spring season, we like to pipe the dough into a simple rosette before baking. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, press a pastel-colored almond on top of each one. You could also top the dough with a piece of dried fruit or chopped nuts before baking.”

1 (10-oz.) can almond paste

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

6 egg whites

1 lb. unsalted butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

31/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

Candied almonds or peanuts, diced dried fruit, chocolate chips or other garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine almond paste, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. With the machine running, gradually add 2 of the egg whites until a smooth, thick paste is formed.

3. Add the butter and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Scrape the bowl. Then gradually add the remaining 4 egg whites, beating until the mixture is creamy.

4. Fold in the flour without overmixing.

5. Place the dough in a piping bag fitted with a star tip or use a cookie press to pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Press garnish, if using, into the center of each cookie.

6. Bake the cookies until pale golden brown until set, about 12 to 15 minutes. To prevent the bottom of the cookies from browning too quickly, double pan the cookies before baking. That is, place each baking sheet on top of a clean sheet pean. This provides a layer of protective insulation.

7. Cool the cookies on a wire rack before serving. Stored in an airtight container, these cookies will keep for more than a week at room temperature and longer when frozen.