Sunday, February 7, 2016

chinese double almond cookies

By the time this post is on the interweb, most of you will have already rid yourselves of the Lunar New Year festivities, and a smaller—albeit still substantial—subset of you will have taken out the upside-down-top-hat-frosted drinking mugs and "Honest Abe" wall stickers (February 12 is Lincoln's birthday if my sarcasm was too subtle). Still, in my experience there has never been a bad occasion to serve a really good cookie, notwithstanding a really, really good cookie. I can assure you that if Lincoln were to try these cookies, he would soon have the figure of Mary Todd Lincoln (and she seems wont to the occasional cookie if you know what I mean). Whether you serve these cookies alongside a pot of tea or an upside-down-top-hat-frosted drinking mug, your guests will be throbbing at your feet in blissful insanity after their first bite. The beginning to an unhealthy addiction to almond cookies will have begun, and you will have successful stolen that person's every future dream and aspiration. We will recruit these cookie zombies to disburse the cookie curse and in a month we will rule North America! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Let's get started. 

yields 2 1/2 dozen cookies

3/4 cup of california almonds, the brown california ones
1/4 cup of marcona almonds, the white spanish ones
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of salt, if your almonds are seasoned you do not need this ingredient
1 1/2 cup of butter, softened
1/2 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of white granulated sugar
2 whole eggs
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract, this is an optional ingredient
2 1/4 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Marcona almonds are a type of almond from Spain with the flavor of a pistachio almond hybrid and the texture of a sassy cashew. Evidently, they're more expensive, but it's the holidays (that's my excuse for everything). In a medium frying pan, evenly coat both types of almonds with the smidgiest amount of olive oil. Pan roast the almonds for 5 minutes on medium-high heat or until the nuts darken but haven't burned. Keep the pan moving! It's even better if you can do the fancy chef thing and flip the pan. Salt and smash into small pieces. I put mine under a tea towel and banged them with the jagged side of a meat mallet, but you choose whichever way lets you release the most pent up anger. Obviously, do not re-salt the almonds if you bought them already salted. Duh. 

2. In a large bowl, cream the sugars and butter together with a hand mixer for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. To minimize the amount of sugar spillage, use a much larger bowl than you think you need. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition, and add the almond extract. Be really careful when you add the almond extract. This stuff can be potent and too much can turn a delicious cookie into a crispy potpourri disk. As is usually the case, less is better than too much. 

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt to remove any large lumps. Add the flour and crushed almonds to the butter mixture in small additions (not as I did, as evidenced by the above picture). Mixing the batter in small amounts will help you from over-mixing. 

3. Believe it or not, the cookies are almost done. Line a cookie pan with parchment. Using a small cookie scoop, portion the cookies into 2 1/2 dozen cookies. Be careful, you may have to bake these in batches because the cookies do spread. In the center of each cookie, press a whole almond (go pretty deep) into the center. I like using a marcona almond because they're softer than the typical red almond, but the latter is more traditional. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the tops look dry. 

And your Chinese Double Almond Cookies are done! While these cookies resemble "normal cookies", bake them as if you were baking shortbread. If you don't bake these long enough, the cookies may be cakey and dry. Also, don't let the dough settle too long between mixing and baking. If you wait too long (like me, I was taking pictures), the butter soaks up the flour and the cookie loses its crispiness. They still tasted fine, but they could have been so much more. I really hope y'all give this one a try. Comment below the friends and fams' reactions. Happy Chinese New Year (and Lincoln's Birthday)! And as always, 


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