ALMOND PALMIERS

Makes 2 to 3 dozen cookies.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. From Kay Lieberherr of St. Paul, who was a finalist in 2011.

1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 c. powdered sugar, plus extra for optional garnish

1 (7-oz.) tube almond paste, cut into small pieces

• 1 egg

• 1/2 tsp. almond extract

• 1/4 c. granulated sugar, divided

1 (17.3-oz.) pkg. puff pastry sheets (containing 2 sheets), refrigerated

Directions

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and almond paste and mix until creamy, about 1 minute. Add egg and almond extract and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Sprinkle work surface with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Carefully unfold 1 puff pastry sheet over sugar and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Using a rolling pin, roll puff pastry sheet into a 12-inch square. Divide almond paste mixture in half. Carefully spread half of almond paste mixture evenly over the top of puff pastry sheet.

Starting on both sides, roll opposite sides of puff pastry sheet, from the outer edge to the middle, with rolls meeting in the center. Firmly press together, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Repeat with second puff pastry sheet.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap puff pastry logs and trim off uneven ends. Cut palmiers into 1/4-inch slices and place, flat side down and 2 inches apart, on prepared baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from oven and cool cookies on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve.