1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan 6 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Cool completely (about 20 minutes). Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
2. Process almonds in a food processor 30 seconds or until finely ground.
3. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar, beating well.
4. Combine flour, next 3 ingredients, and almonds; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended.
5. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls, and place 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Press thumb into each ball, forming an indentation.
6. Bake at 325° for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and cool 30 minutes.
7. Place preserves in a zip-top plastic freezer bag; snip 1 corner of bag to make a small hole. Pipe preserves into indentations.
Try This Twist!
Almond Snowballs: Omit cloves, cinnamon, and preserves. Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups. Prepare recipe as directed through Step 4, beating in 1 tsp. vanilla extract with butter and sugar. (Dough will be crumbly.) Shape and bake dough as directed, without making indentations. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and cool 10 minutes. Roll cookies in 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Makes: about 5 dozen. Hands-on Time: 25 min.; Total Time: 1 hr., 37 min.