In a medium saucepan, heat butter over low heat until butter is melted. Continue heating until butter turns a light golden brown. Remove from heat. Transfer 1/2 cup of the butter to a small bowl. Chill, covered, about 1 1/2 hours or freeze about 45 minutes or until almost firm. Place remaining 1/4 cup butter in a small bowl; cover and set aside at room temperature.Advertisement
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the chilled 1/2 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and almond extract (if using). Beat well. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating until well mixed. (Dough will be soft and sticky.) Chill, covered, at least 5 hours or overnight or freeze for 3 to 4 hours.
Divide dough in half; return half to the refrigerator. On a well-floured surface, roll into a 10x5-inch rectangle. With a sharp knife, cut rectangle into twenty 5x1/2-inch strips. Place half of the strips on a baking sheet or tray and place in the refrigerator while shaping and baking the other 10 strips. Roll each strip to a 10-inch rope. Shape each rope into a loop, crossing 1 1/2 inches from ends. Twist rope at crossing point. Lift loop over to touch ends and form a pretzel shape. Press lightly to seal. (Or fold each 10-inch rope in half and twist 3 times; pinch to seal ends.) Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake in a 425°F oven for 4 to 6 minutes or until cookie bottoms are light brown (tops will be pale). Transfer to wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough strips and dough.
In a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar, reserved 1/4 cup browned butter and the milk. If necessary, add enough milk to make a drizzling consistency. Brush glaze over cooled cookies and immediately sprinkle with pearl sugar. Let stand until glaze is set.
To make 1 cup sour milk, place 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar in a glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1 cup total liquid; stir. Let stand for 5 minutes before using.
To Store: Layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.