Evelyn Mount's Swedish cookies — similar to biscotti — have been a holiday favorite in the family for as long as her daughter Meredith Sage can remember. Use a fresh jar of ground cardamom if you can, or grind your own; the heady flavor of the spice will be well worth it. PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 3/4 hours
1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cardamom (see note above)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup half-and-half
1 large egg white
1/4 cup slivered almonds
How to Make It
In a bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until well blended. Beat in the 2 whole eggs and the almond extract until completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
In a small bowl, stir together flour, cardamom, and baking powder; stir or beat into butter mixture along with half-and-half (dough will be stiff). Divide dough equally between two buttered and floured 9- by 5-inch loaf pans and spread or pat level.
Beat the egg white until foamy and brush over tops of dough. Sprinkle evenly with the almonds and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
Bake in a 350° oven until tops are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then invert pans to release loaves onto rack. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.
With a serrated knife, cut loaves crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices and arrange on a 10- by 15-inch baking sheet. Return to a 325° oven and bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 25 minutes longer. Let cool completely. Store airtight for up to 2 weeks.