Today I’m making my dad’s favorite cookie, Finnish Pins. This buttery cookie dough is similar to shortbread, but has an almond flavor and is topped with chopped almonds and pearl sugar.
If you’ve never had pearl sugar before, I strongly recommend you give it a try. It’s quite popular in Scandanavian baking and will add another level of texture to your everyday baked goods. I like pearl sugar because it doesn’t dissolve quickly when exposed to heat or moisture. You get a sweet, crunchy texture when you top these cookies with pearl sugar.
If you don’t live near Ikea or other specialty food stores, you may have to look online. Your local supermarket probably doesn’t carry this sugar. The star of the Finnish Pins is the pearl sugar, so plan ahead for this one. You can use festive sprinkles in a pinch, but you won’t get the same result.
This dough is rolled out into a log shape, cut into pieces then coated with a beaten egg. The egg coating serves a dual purpose. First, it helps the pearl sugar and chopped almonds stick to the cookie. Second, it makes your cookies perfectly golden brown during the baking process.
Butter Late Than Never
My mom and mormor used margarine in this recipe and they turned out just fine, but I prefer butter. If I’m going to splurge on baked goods, I want it to be better than just fine. Besides, you just don’t get the same texture from margarine as you do butter.
The butter needs to be fairly soft to be able to work the dough. But the butter also needs to be cold to obtain the maximum amount of crumbliness during baking. So, once you have all of your Finnish Pins dough rolled out and your pieces formed and topped, stick the tray of cookies in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes before baking.
This recipe makes about 200 cookies, so it takes a while to make them. I like to roll out all the dough, form the shapes, then freeze the dough pieces in batches of 50. This way you can just bake a tray of cookies whenever you want them without having to do all the work each time.
If you choose to freeze the dough, save the egg coating and topping for when you’re ready to bake the cookies. The pearl sugar is a sturdy sugar, but will hold up better if you wait to do the topping until the cookies are ready to go in the oven. Also, be sure to wrap the cookie pieces in parchment or wax paper before sealing in a freezer storage bag.
A buttery cookie topped with pearl sugar and almond.
For The Cookie Dough
- 4 cups flour divided
- 2 cups butter room temparature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp almond extract
For The Topping
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup pearl sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds
For The Cookie Dough
Preheat oven to 375 F
Beat the butter, sugar and almond extract until well blended. Gradually add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is thick and somewhat tacky. (Reserve at least 1/2 cup flour for sprinkling on your work surface. The tackiness will be gone after rolling out the dough in the flour)
Lightly sprinkle a few pinches of flour over your work surface.
Using about 1/4 cup of the dough, form a ball.
Roll the ball of dough into a log shape. Carefully spread the length of the log as you go along until the log is roughly 12 inches long.
Cut the long log into pieces approximately 1 1/2 – 2 inches long.
Place each piece on a baking sheet lined with parchment. These cookies do not spread out to much, so you can fit a lot of cookies on one sheet.
For The Topping
Chop the almonds into very small pieces. I used almond slices because they are easier to make a finer chop.
Mix the chopped almonds and pearl sugar.
Beat the egg. Using a pastry brush, dab the tops of each cookie with a coating of the egg.
Sprinkle the pearl sugar and almond mixture over the cookies. (If your dough is warm and very soft, refrigerate the dough for 15-20 minutes, You’ll get a crumbly, dense texture.
Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.
Do you have a favorite ingredient that is not easy to find so you have to plan ahead for? Tell me about it in the comments below. Also, please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest by clicking on the link provided.