18 March 2011

A Glazed Almond Cookie Adventure

It's been a few weeks since my last post, so I hope that you've enjoyed reading about Andrea's Iron Chef victory with Garlic Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches. I'm glad to know that they were a hit, especially because I hope they don't reappear at home. I don't ever want to smell 3 heads of roasting garlic in the middle of the night ever again. It made for some strange nightmares. But I digress, we're talking about Christmas cookies, right? Yes...and it's March, so I'm right on time, of course. So let's get started!

My grandma (by way of my stepdad, but grandma just the same) used to send dozens of cookies around to her children/grandchildren every year at Christmastime. She doesn't do it anymore, and I really miss it. One year, I asked her to send me her recipes, and she did! Now, I try to make two or three different kinds each year.

I read a blog called Eat, Live, Run on an almost daily basis. The author's name is Jenna, and I love the way that she presents her recipes. She usually begins with a mise en place, meaning everything in place. I think this is a great way to start out all cooking, because your prep is done, and everything is lined up happily waiting for you to use it. Sometimes, however, there are lots of steps involved before your mise en place is complete.

For these cookies, the almonds first need to be blanched.
Glazed Almond - blanched almonds
See grandma's hand-written recipe back there?!

In reality, this is my favorite part of making these cookies. I boil some water, drop the almonds in for 1 or 2 minutes (you don't want them to lose their crunch), and then strain them out, and submerge them in a bath of ice water. Then, strain them again, pop the skins off of the almonds one by one. I love this part because it's like taking a jacket off of each almond, and what emerges is a beautiful, perfect almond.

Next, we chop!

In this picture, you see the almonds in every stage: un-peeled, naked, and chopped.
Glazed Almond - Mise en place

After that, we gather all of the other needed items, and assemble our Glazed Almond Cookie Mise en place!
Glazed Almond - Mise en place

Now we can get started. First, we cream the butter and sugar:

Then, we mix in the flour, eggs, and chopped almonds, until you get this lumpy dough with almond pieces:
Glazed Almond dough in mixer

Once it's all incorporated, roll it all together into a dough log. Since the recipe has so much butter in it, I find that the dough tends to melt really easily. So i like to roll it into this log, and pop it into the freezer for 30-45 minutes until it's firm enough for me to start hacking at it with my tablespoon measuring spoon.
Glazed Almond dough

I take my measuring spoon and roll each cookie into a ball. This is the perfect size for them. Then, you drop them into egg whites before placing them onto a buttered Cookie Sheet. Then, you press a plain almond into the top of each one.
Glazed Almond

Bake them in the oven until they're golden. Make sure that you take them off the cookie sheet as soon as possible, because the combination of the egg-white and sugar on the hot cookie sheet will cool into a something as hard as a rock. Put them on a cooling rack if you have one. Since I don't, I just do what my mom always did, and just lay the cookies onto some paper towels on the counter or table.
Glazed Almond

And that's it! Enjoy!

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