Chinese Almond Cookies

Makes 3 dozen

8 ounces (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
36 whole natural almonds, toasted
1 large egg, slightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Continuing to mix, slowly add the sugar and beat until smooth, about 30 seconds. In a small bowl, stir together the water, baking powder, and baking soda and add it to the butter mixture. Beat in 1 egg and the almond extract. Decrease to low speed and stir in the flour and sliced almonds. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 1 hour.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into two 1-inch logs. Slice each log into 1/2-inch slices. (If the cookies do not stay round when you cut them, the dough is too soft. Refrigerate until firm enough to slice, about 30 minutes.) Place the cookies two inches apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Press a whole almond into the middle of each cookie. Brush the cookies with the beaten egg. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and then remove them from the baking sheets. Store in an airtight container.