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Almond Filled Speculaas
Servings: 24 cookies

1 recipe Dutch Spice Cookies (see accompanying recipe)
1 package (about 7 ounces) almond paste
1 egg, slightly beaten
24 blanched almond halves

Recipe requires at least 2 hours (or overnight) refrigeration.

Prepare Dutch Spice Cookies dough through the step when dough is
shaped into a flattened ball. Wrap dough in plastic film and
refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour). Placing chilled dough between
sheets of plastic film, roll out to a 10-by-12-inch rectangle.
Divide almond paste in half; on lightly floured surface, use
fingertips to roll each half into 12-inch-long strand. Cut cookie
dough in half to make two 5-by-12-inch rectangles. At 12-inch edge
of each, place a strand of almond paste. Carefully roll each cookie
rectangle tightly around almond paste; press dough over almond
paste to seal at edge and ends. Enclose rolls in plastic film;
refrigerate until firm (at least 2 hours, or overnight). Heat oven
to 325 degrees. Carefully transfer filled cookie rolls, seam sides
down, to a large, lightly greased baking sheet. Brush lightly with
beaten egg; space 12 almond halves down length of each roll. Bake
until surface feels firm when touched gently and almonds are browned
(25 to 30 minutes). Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then
transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Cut rolls between almonds
to make 24 cookie slices.

Dutch Spice Cookies
Servings: 36 cookies

1/4 cup unblanched almonds
1 1/3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon rum or apple juice

Yield and precise baking time depends upon size of molds used.

Place almonds in blender or food processor; process to a powder
(but don't overprocess or nuts will become oily or pasty). In a
separate bowl, stir together ground almonds, flour, cinnamon,
cloves, baking powder, nutmeg and salt to combine thoroughly; set
aside. In a mixer bowl, combine butter and brown sugar, and beat
until fluffy and well blended. Gradually beat in half of the flour
mixture. Add rum; gradually blend in the remaining flour mixture.
Shape dough into a flattened ball. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Pinch
off 1-inch-diameter balls of dough. Press each firmly and evenly
into a floured wooden mold with designs of about 21/2-inch-tall
figures. Tap mold lightly to remove shaped cookie, easing out with
point of a knife if necessary. Arrange cookies about 1 inch apart
on ungreased baking sheets. Bake until cookies are lightly browned
and feel firm when touched gently (15 to 20 minutes). Let cool
slightly on baking sheets; remove to wire racks to complete cooling.


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