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Looking for the perfect beach cookie? These tender, sandy-textured cookies are sturdy enough to tote in a cooler or picnic basket, big enough not to get lost in the folds of the beach blanket, and brush off easily if they’re accidentally dropped in the sand! Although they rely on some shortening for their distinctive texture, don’t fret about trans fats; the trans-fat-free shortenings available on the market now work just fine.
2 3/4 cups (11 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) vegetable shortening
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
1/2 to 1 cup (2 1/2 to 5 ounces) whole blanched almonds
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Cut the butter into pats, and add it to the bowl, along with the shortening. Mix until the dough is evenly crumbly. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla and almond extracts, the egg, and the yolk. Add this to the crumbly dough, mixing till it becomes cohesive.
Roll the dough into 1 ½" balls, and place them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 ½" between them. Or use a tablespoon cookie scoop (overfill it, to yield a 3" to 3 ½" cookie) to deposit balls of dough on the sheets. Flatten the balls to about ½" thickness.
Press 3 to 5 almonds in a star pattern into the center of each cookie (a sand dollar has a five-pointed star in its center). Bake the cookies for about 16 minutes, until they feel set but a fingerprint will remain if pressed in the center. If you bake cookies till they’re totally set, and your fingerprint springs back, they’ll be crispy to the point of rock-hardness. Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool on the sheets.
Yield: 22 cookies.