Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Toasted Almond Cookies

Toasted Almond Cookies - made 12.1.07

My friend Linda and her husband are Blue Diamond Almond growers and Linda is always so kind and generous as to keep me well-supplied with almonds. Whenever I'm going to meet her, I search for recipes that use almonds so I can bake them for her, using the almonds she gave me. I can't think of a more fitting use for them.

This recipe is from The Weekend Baker by Abigail Johnson Dodge. I've tried a fair number of recipes from this cookbook and they generally turn out pretty well. This was really easy to make and the cookies don't spread much upon baking. Toast the almonds first to bring out their flavor. The almonds from Linda are whole almonds so I toast them first then once they're cool, I put them through a coarse grind in my nut grinder. A nut grinder is one of the essential baking tools that I can't live without. They're easy to use, much easier to clean than a food processor and they get the job done quickly. They're also pretty cheap so if you don't have one and like to bake with nuts, you might want to invest in one. Get a good one that lasts forever. In all the years I've been seriously baking, I've only had to replace mine once. Over 20 years and only on my second nut grinder? That's a pretty good investment. And I don't think I paid more than $10 for either one. Here's a link to one that's similar to what I have:

I think the nuts work in this recipe because the cookies aren't cakey and their vanilla flavor provides a good backdrop for the toasted almonds. They're a bit fragile though so I wouldn't recommend shipping them anywhere. Oh, and the recipe calls for a small amount of almond extract but I don't like the taste of almond extract so I substitute vanilla. Seems to work just fine.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of table salt
1 yolk from large egg
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted

1. Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350˚F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Beat with an electric mixer (stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or handheld mixer) on medium speed until well blended. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and almond extracts and beat until combined. Pour in the flour and toasted almonds and beat on low speed until the dough begins to clump together. The nuts will break up a bit, but that’s okay.
3. Using a small ice-cream scoop or 2 tablespoons, shape rounded mounds of about 2 tablespoons dough on the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 ½”. Using your fingers, press down on each mound to flatten slightly.
4. Bake 1 sheet at a time until the cookies look dry on top and the edges are golden brown, about 17 minutes. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Using a spatula, lift the cookies from the sheet onto a rack and let cool completely.

Storage: Layer the baked and cooled cookies between parchment or waxed paper in an airtight container. They can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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