Teresa Parker blogs about restaurants, recipes, and the reasons why she's in love with Spain's food and culture.
Cinnamon Almond Mantecados
Makes 30 cookies
3 oz. whole raw almonds (a steeply heaping 1/2 C)
5 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar (plus 1/2 C for rolling the finished cookies)
1 tsp. cinnamon (or a Tbsp. or so anise liqueur, or a few drops lemon essence)
1 cup all purpose flour
a fat pinch of salt
1/4 lb. (one stick) butter
Preheat oven to 350F. Put almonds on a baking sheet and toast them, about 10 minutes. Give them a stir after 5 minutes and take them out if they're very toasty, you don't want them to burn... but in my oven they need another 5 to get a bit darker and aromatic. Let them cool completely. I don't bother to skin them; the ground skin makes the cookie more flavorful and rustic.
Whirl almonds, the 5 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor. Process until almonds are finely ground. Add the flour and pulse again. Add the butter and pulse the processor until the dough holds together -- it will be crumbly.
(At this point I like to take the blade out of the processor, clean it, and get it put away somewhere safe. That way you can work right out of the processor bowl without losing any fingers.)
Gently roll dough in your hand to make small balls about 1-inch in diameter (or 1/2 oz each). Place on cookie sheet -- they can all go on one sheet, they do not spread much. Using the bottom of a glass dipped in confectioners' sugar to prevent the dough from sticking, squash each ball slightly, leaving the rounds quite thick.
[NOTE: The originally posted recipe was short of flour. I've corrected it: should be one cup. In re-working the recipe, I tried a different way of shaping the cookies and I love the results... If you want something more like what the nuns cookies look like, do this: shaped the dough into a couple of logs 1 and 1/4 inch in diameter and sliced them 1/2 inch thick. The dough is very crumbly and doesn't want to make a neat roll, so that's why even for this small recipe, I made two rolls: they're easier to manage. I formed the roll on a sheet of plastic wrap and rolled it around the dough to help me shape and gently squeeze it into a neat round. No need to refrigerate before slicing and baking.]
Bake 10 to 12 minutes. They should be firming up a bit but not browning at all. Cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove and cool a bit more on a rack. Roll in the remaining 1/2 C confectioners' sugar while they're still a little warm and continue to cool before eating. Or storing. If you're feeling saintly wrap them in little waxed paper squares.