As if all of that wasn't enough to get me in the Christmas spirit, I decided to do a little holiday baking. I can't think of anything that makes a home feel more "Christmas-y" than the smell of fresh cookies in the oven. Surrounded by some excellent cookbooks, I whipped out my trusty notebook and began to make my cookie list for this year. First, I wrote down my tried and true selections. These are the ones I make every year, like my Butter Pecan Cookies. I wanted to try some new recipes this year too. I found one in Sherry Yard's, The Secrets of Baking, for Rose Water Almond Tea Cookies. Wow! They sounded so lovely and elegant! The recipe calls for rose flower water and almond meal, both of which I happened to have on hand, so I gathered the rest of the ingredients and got started.
- Sift together flour and almond meal in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add the 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, and rose water. Cream on medium speed until smooth and lump free. Scrape bowl and paddle.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition, and beat on low speed for 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and paddle again.
- On low speed, add the flour mixture. Beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough and wrap in plastic film, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, and in the freezer, for up to 1 month.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust rack to lower third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Flour your hands. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into 1 inch balls. Place the balls 1 inch apart on he baking sheets. Continue to flour your hands as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.
- Bake one sheet at a time for 12-15 minutes, or until cookies are light golden brown around the edges, rotating sheet halfway through baking.
- As soon as you remove cookies from the oven, cover them completely with sifted powdered sugar. Let cookies cool completely before removing them from the sheets. Store cookies in in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- On a baking sheet, toast pecans until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Let cool completely; finely chop.
- With an electric mixer, cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until light, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla, salt, and flour, scraping down sides of bowl, just until dough comes together. Fold in pecans.
- Separate dough into 12 pieces. Squeeze dough to shape into balls. Roll in sugar.
- Place, 3 inches apart, on a baking sheet. Gently flatten with the bottom of a glass (reshape sides if necessary). Sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake until golden brown, rotating sheet halfway through, about 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle with more sugar. Cool cookies on a wire rack.