If want to make regular sugar cookies, instead of this almond version, replace the almond meal with an additional 3/4 cup (3 1/8 oz) all-purpose flour, and either omit the almond extract, or replace it with lemon, orange, coconut, etc. Yield: about 48 cookies
Combine the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat them together on medium speed for about 1 minute, until fluffy and well-combined. Add the egg and both extracts, and beat on medium-low speed. It is natural for the mixture to look separated at this point.
Whisk together the flour, almond meal, and salt in a separate bowl. With the mixer running on low, add the flour to the dough, and mix just until most of the flour streaks disappear. Stop the mixer and finish mixing with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl very well.
Form the dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for an hour, until firm. The dough can be kept for several days in the refrigerator if you want to make it in advance.
While you wait for the dough to chill, paint the almonds red with food coloring. Use a small food-safe paintbrush and red gel coloring, and paint the top of each almond until it is bright red. Let them sit on a sheet of paper towel and dry. The almonds can be painted several days in advance.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Take a walnut-sized ball of dough, (if you have a scale, I used about .75 oz per cookie) and roll the dough between your palms until it is a long thin snake, about 4 inches long. Place it one the baking sheet and press a red almond into one end for the fingernail. Press your finger about halfway down the dough to widen it for the knuckle. Use a toothpick to press horizontal lines into the cookie under the almond, and across the knuckle. Repeat until all of your cookies are formed.
Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, rotating halfway through. They shouldn't have much color—maybe a little darkening around the edges. Cool completely on the baking sheet. These cookies keep well when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. They are a little delicate because of the almonds, but if some fall off during storage, you can always stick them on using a little melted candy coating as glue.
If you can't find blanched almonds, you blanch your own regular almonds. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the almonds, and let them boil for 60 seconds. Strain the almonds, run them under cool water, then squeeze them between your fingers to quickly remove the almond skins. Pat them dry before coloring them red for this recipe.