Sparkling Starwiches

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  • 6 tablespoons pure almond paste (about 4 ounces), at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Parchment paper for lining baking sheet
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 cups sand or pearl sugar*
  • 1 cup red currant jelly
  • Pure almond paste

* Sand or pearl sugar: Sand sugar or pearl sugar (both sometimes known as coarse or crystal sugar) have larger grains than granulated sugar and are used for decorating baked goods. Sand sugar has slightly smaller and shiner grains than pearl sugar.


  1. In a bowl with an electric mixer at low speed beat together almond paste, granulated sugar, butter, and vanilla extract until light and creamy. Gradually beat in flour and salt until just combined well. Quarter dough and roll out each quarter between sheets of wax paper into an 11-inch round (about 1/8-inch thick). Stack rounds in wax paper on a baking sheet. Chill rounds until firm, at least 2 hours, and up to 3 days.
  2. Heat oven to 325 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Transfer 1 round, still between sheets of wax paper, to a work surface. Remove top sheet of wax paper from round (keep remaining rounds chilled) and replace it loosely. Flip over wax-paper-enclosed round and remove and discard sheet of wax paper now on top (this process prevents cookies from sticking to wax paper). Working quickly, with a 3-inch star-shaped cutter cut out stars and arrange about 1/2 inch apart on baking sheet. (If dough becomes too soft to work with, freeze or chill on wax paper until firm.) With a 1/2-inch star-shaped or round cutter cut and lift out centers from half of stars (about 15). Lightly beat egg whites and lightly brush onto tops of cut-out stars. Sprinkle sand or pearl sugar over cut-out stars, pressing sugar down lightly so that it adheres.
  4. Bake cookies in lower third of oven until bottoms are pale golden but tops are still pale, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet on a rack 5 minutes and transfer with a spatula to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies with remaining dough rounds in same manner, lining baking sheet with fresh parchment.
  5. Arrange solid stars, bottom sides up, on a work surface. In a small heavy saucepan boil jelly, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes and cool 10 minutes. Transfer jelly to a pastry bag fitted with a #3 plain tip (slightly smaller than 1/8 inch).
  6. Pipe about 1/4 teaspoon jelly onto center of each cookie. Center cut-out stars on top of solid stars, pressing gently so jelly fills in holes. Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container at cool room temperature, 3 days.

Yield: about 60 cookies

Source: Gourmet magazine

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