Saturday, February 9, 2013

Starting the lunar year off with almond cookies

Almond Cookies

Last year I stumbled upon almond meal/flour at a local grocery store and picked up a bag despite the cost. As with all things I'm unfamiliar with, I turned to the internet for answers.

What is almond flour? 
Almond meal/flour is basically skinless, blanched almonds that have been finely ground. You can make it at home just as long as you don't grind it so long it becomes almond butter.

Is it good for me? 
It's a great source of protein, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and low in carbohydrates. It's also gluten-free.

And what delicious treats can I make with it? 
Pancakes, cookies, cakes, muffins, breads, substitute for breadcrumbs in meatballs, etc. 

Although there were countless recipes online, I opted to try the almond cookie recipe on the back of the Bob's Red Mill oat flour I had. You can make gluten-free cookies if you use the gluten-free oat flour. Oat flour is gluten-free but may be milled in a facility that has gluten products. I've baked these several times to take to work or bring to soccer games and I never have problems with leftovers. Since I'm home for Chinese New Year and I didn't have time to make my ninja cookies (sorry cousin), I made a double batch for my folks.

Almond Cookies (recipe from Bob's Red Mill with my notes in blue, makes 2 dozen cookies)
1/2 cup butter
6 tablespoons maple sugar or light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup almond meal
1 cup sifted oat flour
1 tablespoon powdered sugar (for dusting, if desired)

1) Preheat oven to 300ºF. 
2) Grease cookie sheet; set aside. (I use parchment paper so I can skip greasing the cookie sheet)
3) With a hand mixer, blend the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. 
4) Add the almond meal and oat flour and mix until the dough sticks together.
5) Form the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls. (I use a small (1" diameter) ice cream scoop which makes the process quick and keeps my hands clean)
6) Place them on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. 
7) Cool cookies completely before enjoying. (Sift powdered sugar on top, if desired)

Creamy mixture of butter, sugar and vanilla extract
I mixed the flours with the butter/sugar mix with the electric mixer initially and finished the job off with the spatula. Since almond flour is on the pricey side, I make sure I scrape up every last bit.
I typically use a 1" ice cream scoop to seed things up but my parents only had a 1-1/2" scoop which made for slightly larger cookies.
They don't spread when baked.
I opted to hand roll 1-1/2" balls for the last tray and baked them for ~25 minutes. They probably could have gone for 30 minutes but they turned out pretty nice.
The little guys in on their way out the oven
Ready to be shared :)

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