It isn’t really Christmastime for me until I break out the vintage cookie press and bake a batch of Almond Wreath Cookies. This butter cookie recipe is a tradition in my family; my mom and grandmother and I spent many a Saturday after Thanksgiving baking a double batch to take us through the holiday season.
I tinkered just the tiniest bit with the recipe when I made almond wreaths — earning, predictably, maternal wrath. As I was baking, I texted Mom a photo.
Mom: Looks like almond wreaths!
Me: You’ll say it’s sacrilege, but I flavored the dough.
Mom: You WHAT? How could you?
Me: An Italian vanilla-citrus flavor called Fiori di Sicilia. I love it in butter cookies.
Mom: Well, if you must …
To keep the peace, I baked another half batch the old way. But I really prefer the light citrus flavor of my version; the cookies taste like ones you’d buy at a fancy Italian bakery.
However you choose to make them, I hope you enjoy this, the last recipe of Christmas Cookie-Palooza 2017. Happy baking, and happy holidays!
Almond wreath cookie recipe
makes 4 dozen
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening or solid coconut oil
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 whole large egg
1 egg yolk (retain white for decorating)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia OR 1/8 teaspoon orange extract + 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract OR 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Red and green candied cherries and silver dragées for decorating
In a small bowl, stir together the almonds, granulated sugar and cinnamon; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer) cream together butter and shortening or coconut oil. (NOTE: If you're using coconut oil, be sure the mixture is smooth with no lumps, which can gum up your cookie press.) Add whole egg, egg yolk and vanilla and stir to blend. Add flour and salt and blend until well-combined. The dough will be soft.
Preheat oven to 350°. Place half of dough in a cookie press fitted with the star tip. Press dough into a circular wreath, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. When you've pressed out a tray full of cookies, brush them lightly with the beaten egg white. Sprinkle with cinnamon-almond sugar. Cut candied cherries into tiny bits and place on the cookies to resemble holly and ivy, or use red cherries and a silver dragée to resemble a bow and silver bell. Bake for 10–12 minutes, until set and dry but not brown. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.