Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chinese Almond Cookies

I am baking cookies in the kitchen this week that are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Today, I wanted to make something tasty, but not over indulgent. For those that want to indulge, check back later this week for a  chocoholics favorite treat of darkness.

Since you usually cannot find any caramelized, fudge treats at a Chinese bakery, I decided that Asian desserts was a good topic to start looking under.  I came across several recipes for egg custards, moon cakes and almond cookies.

One particular recipe for almond cookies seemed to be easy and I had all the ingredients in hand.  After baking, I decided this recipe is a keeper. It resulted in wonderful little nut-filled rounds that were crispy with a delicious taste of buttery almonds. Just perfect for afternoon tea or a cup of coffee. This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Chinese Almond Cookies
courtesy of  Classic Stars Desserts

1/3 cup sliced almonds
36 whole almonds
3/4 tsp almond extract
1 tbs water
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter (room temp)
2 eggs
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour (additional for dusting)

The first step will be to toast the almonds.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Place sliced almonds in a shallow pan and put in oven.  Set timer for 5 minutes and when timer goes off, take pan out and stir.  Then put pan back in oven for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove and pour almonds in a bowl to cool.  Set aside.  Follow the same steps for the whole almonds.  Then turn the oven off.

Take a small bowl out and fill with water, baking soda and baking powder.  Stir until blended and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  This should take about 2 minutes.  Then add the sugar and beat at medium speed for 30 seconds or until batter is smooth again.  Give the small bowl of water mixture one last stir and then beat it into the butter mixture. Once combined, blend  in one egg and vanilla into the batter, still using the electric mixer.

Switch the mixer to low and add the flour and almonds.  Run the mixer just until the batter turns into a dough.

Transfer the dough to a medium bowl and cover.  Place in fridge for 1 hour to chill.

Once an hour has passed, take dough out of fridge and divide in half.  Roll each half of the dough into a log measuring 9 inches long and 1 inch in diameter.  Cover with plastic wrap and place each log in fridge for an additional 30 minutes or until firm enough to slice.

In the meantime, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and turn oven on to 325 degrees to preheat.

After chilling the logs, remove one from fridge.  Slice log into 18 pieces measuring 1/2 inch thick.  Place on baking sheet(s) about 2 inches apart.  Place 1 almond in the middle of each piece, pressing gently.  Then get a small bowl and add the remaining egg.  Lightly beat with a fork.  Take a pastry brush, dip into the egg and brush over the top of each cookie.

Place baking sheet in the oven.  Let bake for about 10-14 minutes.  Rotate pan halfway though baking process.  Cookies are done when the egg wash and cookie edges turn a light golden color. Remove cookies and leave on baking sheet to cool.  Repeat process with additional log from fridge.