I hope everyone survived our first wave of the holiday season and enjoyed their Thanksgiving. I made it through but I will admit was super tired and have practically slept my days away since. Being seven months pregnant and preparing an entire holiday meal did take its toll on me more than I anticipated but it sure did make a little girl in my belly surprisingly happy to eat thousands of calories. Hopefully all of you had a wonderful meal like she did without packing on too many unwanted reminders found in pounds on the scale the next day. I have fared pretty well so far but am a bit worried about Christmas… where more tempting goodies await me. Which leads me to another installment of my 2012 search for new and unique cookies to introduce to all of you readers, so that you can possibly add these new finds to your own holiday baking list.
My previous post featured the delicious Nutella confection Hazelnut Chewies. Today I introduce to you a sandwich cookie that can rival Oreo itself… the Cherry Almond Cookie. This delicious confection begins with the most simple cookie dough you will ever create and no better time than the holidays to have an extremely simple recipe when you have so many other items to be preparing. Every ingredient is dumped into the food processor and given a twirl until the dough forms. This process only takes a few short minutes and then the dough is ready to be rolled out and cut into shapes. I used a simple round cutter with a fancy edge however if you want to be more in the holiday spirit you could maybe use a holiday cutter. I wouldn’t attempt to use any complicated shapes though because the cookie is very delicate and is prone to break and probably wouldn’t hold up to any intricate designs. You are welcome to try but I don’t want to recommend anything too complex and lead you to disaster on Christmas or whatever holiday your family celebrates. Even without a holiday cookie shape, the color of the jam, whether you use cherry or my other recommended flavor, raspberry, both provide the signature red color of the holidays and will bring the festive holiday spirit to your dessert table.
With that said let’s talk a little bit more about the filling. The almond cookie is so delicate it literally melts in your mouth when you eat it. Not to take anything away from this tender confection, you want a filling that will compliment the almond flavor without overshadowing it but also manage to glue the two delicate pieces together into a sandwich. I chose a cherry preserve because cherry is a favorite flavor of mine and also compliments the almond flavor of the cookie. Another filling that I recommend if you don’t prefer cherries is raspberry jam, as it also compliments the almond flavor profile of the cookie. If you choose to follow this formula for the cherry preserves, make sure to avoid the large chunks of cherries as they will not allow you to press the cookies together firmly. If using raspberry jam then you have it a bit easier 😉 Also be sure to work quickly spreading the preserve or jam once the cookies come out of the oven. If you wait for them to cool they will not stick together as firmly and the cookies won’t absorb some of the flavor from the filling. The final touch I give the finished cookie is an ample sprinkling of sugar on top. I used vanilla sugar but regular sugar works just fine too. If you desire to use vanilla sugar, you can either by a jar carried at most specialty spice stores or make it from scratch using a vanilla bean placed in some sugar for a few days.
One final note: If you don’t have slivered almonds on hand or would rather purchase sliced, you can substitute but make sure you use 1 ½ cups sliced almonds not the 1 ¼ called for in the formula. The following formula produces approximately 2 dozen cookies.
Cherry Almond Cookies
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 ¼ cups Slivered Almonds (see above for alternatives)
- 1 cup Sugar
- 16 tbsp. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, cut into ½ in. pieces; chilled
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- ½ cup Cherry Preserves (see above for alternatives)
- Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Heat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Process 1 cup flour and almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add ½ cup sugar and remaining flour. Process until combined. Add butter and vanilla to food processor and pulse until dough forms.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to ¼ in. thickness. Using a 2 in. round cookie cutter (or your desired shape: keeping in mind a larger cutter will result in a lower production amount), cut out cookies, gathering and re-rolling dough as needed. Place cut cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until light brown around the edges, about 15 minutes, making sure to rotate pans halfway through the cooking time. Cool cookies on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
- Place remaining sugar in a bowl. Working quickly, spread 1 tsp. jam on the bottom halves of the warm cookies, then press the remaining cookies onto the jam, forming a cookie sandwich. Sprinkle the cookies with sugar to coat. Cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM BRIDGET PETERSON