Chinese Almond Cookies

makes about 40 cookies

2 ¾ cups (365g) all purpose flour
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt (or table salt)
1 cup (176g) vegetable shortening
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
40 blanched almond (optional)

To Blanch Almonds:
Boil almonds in water for 1-2 minutes until the brown papery skins start to loosen and wrinkle. Remove from boiling water and cool in ice water. Drain and slip skins off by gently pinching one end of the almond. The nuts should slip right out of their skins. Allow almonds to dry.

To Make Dough:
Preheat oven to 325F. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the flour mixture and shortening until combined. Add the egg, milk, and almond extract; mix well.

To Bake the Cookies:
Use a #50 cookie scoop to evenly portion dough and knead in the palm of your hands 5 or 6 times, then roll into balls; place balls of dough on a silpat or parchment lined sheet pan, 12 at a time. Make a depression in the center of each ball of dough with your thumb and gently press a blanched almond into the depression. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until they just start to turn light golden around edges. Cool 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.