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It was always a good day when my grandparents had a deep navy tin of Royal Dansk cookies. (And a bad day when they only had Lorna Doones.) Anyone who's come across these Danish butter cookies immediately gravitates towards a particular cookie, choosing a favorite amongst the five shapes.
In my opinion, the swirled ring is pretty good, but nothing beats the pretzel. It's by far the most fun, complicated shape, allowing for various routes to nibble. And it has the all-important sprinkling of coarse sugar which adds sweetness and a textural contrast which elevated 11-year-old palates enjoy.
Now I don't want to get your hopes up too much, because this is not a recipe for Danish butter cookies (though that's topping my to-do list.) Instead I offer a recipe for pretzel-shaped almond butter cookies which I found stuffed in my mother's old recipe file. The recipe was yellowed and fading, a page long torn from its home. I almost passed on, but those words, "pretzel" and "butter cookie" stopped me dead in my tracks.
These cookies are a weekend project. Make the simple almond-scented dough in the morning, have lunch, then spend a leisurely hour on twisting the dough into logs and the logs into pretzels. After baking, each cookie is dipped into melted chocolate.
The cookies taste of exactly three things: almonds, butter, and the chocolate you melted to make the dip (I prefer a good quality dark.) In that way they're gloriously simple, but their shape makes them especially suited for a cookie plate. I plan to make them again for the holidays, adding red and white sprinkles on each pretzel-y end.
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