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Vanilla Butter Rounds

from Big Fat Cookies by Elinor Klivans
Vanilla Butter Rounds

2 3/4 cups cake four
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
18 whole unblanched (with skins) almonds or pecan or walnut halves (optional)

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in
Big Fat Cookies
by Elinor Klivans from Chronicle Books

Cake flour is the secret to the especially tender texture of these cookies, with lots of butter and o generous measure of vanilla working together to create the rich taste. Let the bottoms and edges of these cookies brown lightly to give the cookies a pleasing browned butter flavor. Look for boxes of cake flour (not self-rising) in the supermarket.

Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large howl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, heat the butter and sugar until lightened in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the howl as needed during mixing. Mix in the egg yolks, vanilla, and almond extract until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated. The dough will be soft and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is cold and firm enough to roll into balls with your hands without sticking, about 1 hour.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the Oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using an ice cream scoop or measuring cup with a 1/4-cup capacity, scoop out mounds of dough. Roll each mound between the palms of your hands into a smooth ball, flatten it into a 3-inch circle, and place the cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Press a nut into the center of each cookie, if desired.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are light brown, about 22 minutes. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

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