Yup, trouble right here,
Right here, in Anchorage,
Trouble with a capital "T"
And that rhymes with "P"
And that stands for "put the damn butter away if you're not going to use it right now."
But I digress.
That's my homage to "The Music Man," a musical I've never particularly liked despite an upbringing in theatre. Due to an odd set of circumstances, I had Thursday and Friday off this week. I had Grand Plans--a "to do" list ten items long that I thought I could work my way through on Thursday despite four appointments and working at home. I thought surely, surely I could make the Croccante--almond and butter cookies--from A16 in my vast free time despite the four appointments, the to-do list and making dinner for six people and taking it to my friend Paul's that night.
I optimistically set out the 8 ounces of butter early in the afternoon. Then life intervened.
Flash forward to Sunday morning, when I finally have time to make cookies. The butter was so soft it was practically oozing off the counter, but I combined and stirred and let the dough firm the right amount of time in the refrigerator. I optimistically then attempted to roll the dough out, only to have it stick to the marble rolling pin, the counter and then dissolve in a big buttery puddle on the counter.
It wasn't pretty, but I managed to cut and bake the cookies. They took way longer to bake but through a miracle of baking, came out all buttery and almond-y. Don't follow my example--take your butter out an hour or two before.
Adapted from A16 Food + Wine
8 ounces butter (2 sticks), at room temperature but not melting off the counter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
Beat the sugar with the butter until creamy, either with a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to merely combine. Mix in the flour and salt on low speed, then add the almonds. Be careful not to overmix. Then dump the mixture onto a large piece of plastic wrap and press into a square, approximately 1/4 inch thick. Refrigerate for an hour, and make sure the dough is nice and firm.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two baking sheets and then make sure the dough is the 1/4 inch thickness--roll out if necessary. Cut into 1 inch by 2 inch rectangles, then space approximately one inch apart on the cookie sheets. Bake about 12 minutes or until lightly golden, then cool on wire racks.
One of the great things about Italian desserts is that they are small and not too sweet--this is a great example. Serve with fresh fruit. Makes about 30 cookies.