This is one of my favorite cookies of all time. It may sound a bit lah-di-dah (the acual name of the cookie is pain d'amande) but in Belgium it's called almond bread. It's a very simple, good-tasting, crisp cookie, perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, maybe even a glass of milk.
The recipe came from Flo Braker's cookbook, Sweet Miniatures, but she guest-hosted and published the recipe on David Lebovitz' site, Living the Sweet Life in Paris where there are many great photos: davidlebovitz.com/...damande-cookies
1Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat with the sugar, cinnamon and water. Stir until the butter just melts but don't allow to boil. Most of the sugar should not be dissolved. (After I cut the butter into cubes, I let it get very soft so it melts quickly. That helps keep more of the sugar crystals intact.)
2Remove from heat and stir in the flour, baking soda and almonds until well mixed.
3Line a 9-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap and press the dough into the pan so there are no holes and the top is smooth. Chill until firm. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days, or well-wrapped and frozen for up to two months.
4To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325° (160°C).
5Using a very sharp strong knife, slice the dough crosswise, as thin as possible, into rectangles. If you can get them as thin as a coin, all the better. The thinner they are, the more delicate and crisp they'll be. (After I cut the dough, if I'm not going to bake all of the cookies at once, I wrap the slices well and either refrigerate or freeze them so I can bake as few or many as I want.)
6Space the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets (do not use a silicone baking sheet) and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies feel slightly firm and the undersides are golden brown. Flip the cookies over and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cookes are crisp and deep golden-brown on top. The baking times depend on how thin you cut the cookies. The slow baking develops the crispy texture and toasty flavor. Although the dough is pale in color, it becomes honey-colored and delicious when baked. (The sugar caramelizes during the long slow baking.)
7Cool completely, then store airtight until ready to serve. The baked cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to three days.
8Note: Large-crystal golden sugar is available in specialty food stores, natural food stores, or online. Depending on where you live, C&H Hawaiian Washed Sugar is available in grocery stores. The raw sugar's light golden color and distinctly old-fashioned flavor, similar to that of turbinado-style sugar, gives this cookie its unique taste, texture and appearance.
9These cookies aren't typically American, but the site doesn't allow for a European or Belgian option and it forced me to choose.