The blogosphere is in the throes of a Christmas baking frenzy, and I've been feeling rather sorry for myself because I didn't grow up with any baking traditions and thus have no recipes to contribute.
Or so I thought. I may not have any baking traditions, but I do have one recipe to share. It comes from the original Prunier's in Sydney, and I'm sharing it partially in the hopes that I'll find someone else out there who remembers the restaurant and its manager, Aldo Zuzza.* Prunier's played enough of a role in shaping my foodie identity that it merits a post or two of its own, so all I'll say is that it was my absolute favorite restaurant in Sydney, and if Aldo hadn't decided to retire to the Hunter Valley and open a vineyard, I might never have agreed to my parents' decision to relocate to Hong Kong.
These almond cookies were served with coffee or tea at the end of every meal at Prunier's. Aldo gave me this recipe on Prunier's last night in business, scribbled out on a sheet of paper torn from a waiter's notepad. He gave me just the ingredient list, so I sorted out the method on my own. The measurements have been converted from metric.
Prunier's Almond Cookies
(Makes an awful lot, but the dough freezes. Bake only as many as you want to eat.)
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon Grand Marnier
Cream sugar and butter together. Mix in the flour gradually. Add the slivered almonds, eggs, vanilla essence, and grand marnier. Mix gently. Shape the dough into squarish logs about one half-inch in diameter, and chill in the freezer until firm. (Dough will keep, frozen, for a month or so.)
Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the logs of dough into thin slices and arrange them on a baking tray. Bake for 5-8 min, until the cookies are golden. Cool. Serve with coffee or tea.
*Prunier's changed owners, underwent a renovation, and became an abomination that serves trendy, mediocre, overpriced food. If you'd like a dining experience akin to that of the original Prunier's, head to Darcy's in Paddington.