Salted brown butter and almond cookies
Just add bubbly: Mix-and-match recipes you can make ahead for an elegant holiday cocktail party.
Salted Brown Butter and Almond Cookies Makes about 4 dozen
A pan with a light-colored interior makes it easier to see how dark the brown butter is becoming. A dark interior, like those most nonstick pans have, makes the color difficult to gauge.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 1/4 cups blanched slivered almonds, toasted and cooled
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or large-flake sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook, swirling pan often, until butter begins to brown and smell nutty, about 3 1/2 minutes. Immediately pour the brown butter into a heatproof bowl and refrigerate until solid and well chilled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Set the oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick mat, and set aside. In a food processor, grind 1 cup of almonds to a fine meal, transfer to a bowl, and set aside. In the food processor, pulse the flour and 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or sea salt to combine. Cut the brown butter into small chunks, scatter over the flour, and pulse to cut the butter into the flour until it takes on the texture of fine sand, about 12 3-second pulses. Add the confectioners’ sugar, ground almonds, and vanilla, and process until the dough forms small curds and clumps (it will not be totally cohesive). Add the remaining slivered almonds and pulse once or twice just to combine. Transfer dough to a bowl.
Using a rounded 1 teaspoon measure (or with fingers), form the cookies by scooping about 2 teaspoons of dough and squeezing gently. Set on the baking sheet, spacing the dough balls about 1/2 inch apart. When the sheet is full, sprinkle a couple flakes of fleur de sel or sea salt on each cookie and bake until set and the tops are just beginning to crack, about 13 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking time. Remove to a rack and cool for at least 1 hour (preferably longer) for cookies to firm up. Serve at room temperature.
MAKE AHEAD: Up to 3 days before your party (store in an airtight container at room temperature).
Adam Ried writes the Globe Magazine’s Cooking column. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.