Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Taste Tip: This dough must be prepared in advance.

½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Freshly grated zest from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon flour, plus extra for rolling dough
1 egg white, slightly beaten
¾ cup sliced almonds, roughly chopped

In bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract, lemon zest and thyme, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour and mix until just incorporated. Shape dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured work surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a rectangular shape no less than ¼ -inch thick. Trim edges with knife or pizza cutter and cut dough into 1½- to 2-inch squares.

Using a pastry brush, brush top of bars lightly with egg white and sprinkle with chopped almonds. Gently press almonds into dough. Using a thin-bladed spatula, carefully transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies 1 inch apart, and bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

2008 Finalist: Margaret DeHarpporte of Eden Prairie, Minnesota