Thursday, January 10, 2008

Almond Cookies

A very different approach to almonds today, but likewise perfect. These are my very favorite of all Mom's cookies. She usually makes them at Christmas, because they are an expensive ordeal to make properly. The cookies are an adaptation of Better Homes and Gardens' Chinese Almond Cookies (in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 1976). I drop the word Chinese as I don't suppose they really are, and the addition Mom makes does make a pretty big (and delicious) difference in the final product. She adds almond paste-- "however much [she] can get her hands on." Don't buy the hard tubes you may find at most grocery stores. Buy soft almond paste from a specialty store or perhaps a finer grocery store. This is a momentous entry-- one of my favorite recipes in the world.

Almond Cookies

2 3/4 c sifted all-purpose flour
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 t soda
1/2 t salt
1 c butter
1/2 lb to 1 lb almond paste, give or take
1 slightly beaten egg
1 t almond extract
1/3 c whole almonds

Preheat oven to 325. Sift flour, sugar, soda, and salt together into bowl. Cut in butter and almond paste until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add egg and almond extract; mix well. (Alternatively, cream butter with sugar, soften paste in microwave oven, cut into pieces, and cream it into the fat/sugar. Cream in egg, extract. Add well-mixed dry ingredients in batches).
Shape dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Place an almond atop each cookie and press down to flatten slightly. Bake 15 to 18 minutes. Cool on rack.

UPDATE 12/29/11: Do not obey the above directions. Do cream the butter with the sugar. Cut the almond paste into small-ish chunks without softening it in the microwave-- the warm almond paste runs the risk of melting the butter, which is bad. Cream the almond paste into the fat/sugar. This may take some time and effort. It is ok if there are some little chunks of almond paste that aren't quite incorporated. Then add egg, extract. Add well-mixed dry ingredients in batches. Bake on parchment paper. These cookies brown less than other cookies. You want the bottoms to just be toasty golden, not brown. The tops should not really be brown in the slightest.

3 comments:

Jolene said...

If you use the creaming method, the cookies will spread more in the baking and the cookie will be softer. I like them either/both ways.

Melissa said...

I asked Reed about these types of cookies once and he said that they are indeed Chinese.

Rebekka said...

"BEAR COOKIES":

In a pinch, I made this recipe with 10 oz almond butter (a brand with no added sugars-- just roasted almonds and oil) in place of the almond paste. My nephew RR helped. I knew it would make a different cookie, but I thought it would make a good cookie anyway. It did. They won't replace correct almond cookies for me, but the taste was very good and they are a great choice for someone who likes a Sandy-style cookie, but not too sweet. They are quite crumbly out of the oven but actually set up quite well. I baked some at 325 but felt they were taking a while and put it up to 350. Who knows what is best. They all turned out yummy.