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Southern Dutch Squares

Oxmoor House
Prep time 22 mins
Bake time 25 mins
Yield makes 6 dozen
These cookies are inspired by speculaas, traditional stamped cookies introduced by Dutch settlers who found their way to South Carolina around the 1670s. This variation captures the spiciness and texture of speculaas, but we've skipped the classic wooden stamp, and created simple rolled-and-cut squares pressed with almonds.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon anise extract or 1⁄2 tsp. anise seeds, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose fl our
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon or orange rind
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped blanched almonds
  • 1 (6-oz.) can whole natural almonds
  • Granulated sugar

How to Make It

  1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add brown sugar, beating well. Add egg, anise extract, and almond extract, beating well.

  2. Combine flour and next 8 ingredients; stir well. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Stir in chopped almonds.

  3. Divide dough in half. Shape 1 portion into a ball; knead 3 or 4 times until smooth. Roll dough into a 9-inch square on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cut dough into 36 (1 1⁄2-inch) squares. Press a whole almond into center of each square. Repeat procedure with remaining dough.

  4. Bake at 325° for 25 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheet, and sprinkle with sugar while warm; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Break cookies apart, and store in airtight containers.

Southern Living Best Loved Cookies