This crisp cookie is a cross between shortbread and linzer dough. It's a dry dough, crumbly and flecked with ground nuts. Two components tame the amaranth flour: the toasted hazelnuts, ground with their skins on for extra flavor and color, and honey, which is infused with orange peel, cardamom, and orange-blossom water before being brushed on the warm cookies. Open up your drawers and find your favorite cookie cutters--this is a fantastic dough for cutout shapes.
- Butter for the pans
- ½ cup raw hazelnuts, skin on
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ¼ cup amaranth flour
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ cup honey
- 5 pods cardamom, smashed
- Zest of 1 orange, using a wide peeler
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1. Place oven racks at the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Spread the hazelnuts evenly on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 16 to 18 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the nuts are fragrant and dark brown but not burnt. Remove from the oven and cool. Once the nuts are cool, grind them, skins and all, in a food processor until finely ground, about 20 seconds.
2. Rub two baking sheets lightly with butter.
3. While the nuts are toasting, sift the dry ingredients into a bowl, pouring back any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter. Add the softened butter and the ground hazelnuts to the dry ingredients and rub the butter into the dough with your fingers. The ingredients should just barely come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured work surface and press it together.
4. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a thickness of about 3/16 inch. If the dough seems to be cracking, push it back into place and continue rolling. You probably won't need any additional flour to roll out the dough, as it will be quite dry. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles and transfer them to the buttered baking sheets. Alternatively, you can use cookie cutters of any shape.
5. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, depending on the size and shape of your cookies. Rotate the pan halfway through. The cookies should be evenly golden, with slightly darker edges and a dark golden bottom crust. When the cookies come out of the oven, move them onto a baking rack for glazing.
6. Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over a low flame, melt the honey, cardamom, orange zest, and orange-blossom water. Do not let the syrup boil, as you don't want to reduce the honey and risk crystallization. Stir the syrup and remove it from the heat, letting it infuse for a minimum of 15 minutes.
7. To glaze the cookies, brush each one twice while they are still warm to give the glaze a chance to soak into them. These cookies are best eaten as soon as they've cooled, but they'll keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.