Purchase a commercial leaf-mold — most have two 2 1/2-inch long cutouts — in specialty stores or make your own mold by cutting a leaf shape out of a thick piece of plastic or cardboard.
(About fifty 2 1/2-inch or thirty 4-inch cookies) 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup finely ground almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup superfine sugar
1 large egg or 2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, almond, or orange extract
12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted (optional)
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease a large baking sheet.
2) Combine the flour, nuts, and salt. Beat the butter or margarine until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg or egg whites. Add the extract. Stir in the flour mixture.
3) Place a leaf-mold or stencil flat on the prepared baking sheet. Using a spatula dipped in cold water, spread a thin layer of batter in the mold (about 1 heaping teaspoonful for a 2 1/2-inch long mold), then carefully remove the mold. Wipe away any excess batter. Repeat, leaving about 1-inch between cookies.
4) Bake until the edges are lightly colored, about 8 minutes. Set the baking sheet on a rack and let cool. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
5) For Chocolate-Dipped Leaf Cookies: Dip the tops of the cookies into the melted chocolate or spread the chocolate using a metal spatula. Place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and let stand until set.