Chinese cuisine may not be famous for its desserts, but given a choice, the almond cookie would be near the top of the list for Asian sweets — or any kind of treat, for that matter. I suspect that this baked good, like its fortune-filled cousin, is somewhat of an American interpretation (if not invention). But unlike the fortune cookie, the almond cookie actually tastes good.
I have long loved the subtle sweetness of almond extract, and a crumbly cookie is the perfect vehicle for it. Everyone is familiar with those supermarket pink boxes, but almond cookies are very easy to make at home, especially since Saturday, April 9 is Chinese Almond Cookie Day. I’m not making this up, although there is scant evidence of this holiday’s origins.
My favorite recipe for almond cookies comes from Sundays at Moosewood, one of my first post-college cookbooks. I like to doctor up my recipe by replacing part of the flour with almond meal — lowering the carbs and adding protein, fiber and Vitamin E. While my kids usually shy away from nuts (due to pickiness, not allergy), I usually make a few without the customary whole almond pressed into the top. Even they admit, those almond cookies taste pretty good.
Adapted from Sundays at Moosewood
1 ¾ c. Flour
1 c. Almond meal
1 c. Unsalted butter or shortening, which makes a crispier texture
1 c. Sugar
½ tsp Baking soda
¼ tsp. Salt
3 tsp. Almond extract
20-30 Raw almonds
additional egg, if desired for egg wash
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Cut the butter into small pieces
- Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, then cut in the butter
- Add eggs and almond extract
- Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place them on a baking sheet
- Press an almond into the center of each cookie
- If you want a shiny cookie (like those supermarket ones, lightly brush the tops of each cookie with beaten egg)
- Bake for 15-20 minutes