I have friends who are gluten-intolerant, and I always felt a bit guilty leaving them out of my holiday baking. I found a recipe in the King Arthur Cookie Companion, a great source for the cookie baker, that I developed a little so that I can now gift these friends, too, with delicious cookies.
My recipe contains only “normal” ingredients — none of that guar gum or other mysterious ingredients. Your homemade almond paste is best here (see my previous post). If you’ve used it all up already, you can go with store-bought in a 10-ounce can.
Freshly made, these cookies have a chewy texture; after a few days, they become airy and crunchy — just as delicious either way. This recipe makes about thirty 2-inch cookies.
• 1 cup (about 10 ounces) almond paste
• 1 cup cane sugar
• 2 large egg whites
• 1/2 tsp almond extract
• 1/8 tsp sea salt
• 1 cup either sliced or slivered almonds
1. Have your almond paste at room temperature. It is easier to weigh the paste than to use a liquid measuring cup. If you have a scale with a tare feature, put your mixer bowl on the scale, tap the ON and then add almond paste up to 10 ounces.
2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment. These cookies contain no butter and they’re sticky, so parchment is preferable. If you don’t have it, you can use a brown paper bag cut to fit.
3. In the mixer, blend the almond paste and the sugar to make a coarse meal-like texture. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you could us a pastry blender to do this, cutting the sugar into the paste to get the right texture.
4. Lightly beat the egg whites so they’re quite liquid. Gradually stir the whites into your almond paste mix.
5. Now add the salt, stir well, and then the almond extract. Beat on medium speed until you have a smooth batter-like consistency.
6. Put about a tablespoon of either the sliced or slivered almonds on the cookie sheet and drop a tablespoon of the dough on top. If you prefer, you can use a pastry bag with a large tip. Repeat, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart.
7. Use a fine-mesh sieve or a sifter to coat the tops of the cookies with the confectioners’ sugar. Picking up the pieces of almond one by one, stick them into the top of the cookies, several in each, pressing down on the cookie.
8. Put the cookie sheet in the oven being sure to keep a thumb on the near edge of the parchment so it doesn’t slide off.
9. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 20 to 22 minutes when they begin to brown around the bottom edges. Let the cookies cool on the pan; then remove them carefully by peeling the parchment off the bottoms.
10. Store the cookies airtight, using parchment between the layers. They can be frozen.
Wendy Akin is a happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.