With a name like Praliné de Santal, Parfumerie Générale's third-from-latest fragrance ought to be fairly oozing with caramel-drenched hazelnuts. Instead, I find it on the dry side-- and I like it. Synesthetically speaking, all of its elements favor the dusty-sandy-gritty end of the textural spectrum, a phenomenon offset by the weighty richness of their combined scent. I am reminded of polvorones, those tiny, unassuming cakes made mostly of ground nuts and butter, which explode into sweet-salty crumbs when bitten. Who could guess that something so unsubstantial could be so down-deep satisfying?
Beat together ½ cup unsalted butter and ½ cup shortening until creamy. Add 1½ cups confectioner's sugar, 1 tsp freshly grated orange zest, and 1 tbsp. milk. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2/3 cup finely ground nuts, ¼ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon. Add this mixture to the butter/shortening blend a spoonful at a time, stirring well until it has been fully incorporated and the dough is crumbly. Roll the dough into long cylinders about 1" in diameter on sheets of waxed paper and refrigerate for several hours before using.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Cut half-inch thick medallions of dough and place them one inch apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. (If desired, roll them into balls first, pressing slightly to flatten the underside as you place them on the cookie sheet.) Bake on the center rack of the oven for 10-15 minutes until pale brown around the edges. While the cookies are still hot, transfer them into a bowl of confectioner's sugar and roll them around quickly to coat them. Brush off excess sugar and place on a wire rack to cool.
Scent Elements: Sandalwood, heliotrope, hazelnut, Virginia cedar, cashmeran