Saturday, September 16, 2006

Almond cookies

I cant resist stopping to look at big colourful books that have lots of glossy photos of food - especially cookies and cakes and pies. And if said books are cheap, I certainly cant resist buying them. The only kind of baking books I havent bought - and wont - are the ones on fancy cakes and cake decorating, which IMHO are meant for master bakers (like Archana). I would like to be able to create masterpieces like that - but I know I dont have the drive or the patience. I'm content to admire, and BOY do I ever admire Archana's cakes! Also, if ever I baked cakes that look like works of art, I would most certainly resent anybody even touching them, much less slicing 'em up prior to shoving the art into their big gaping gobs! :)

Anyway, my most recent purchase was a giant book of cookies and muffins (The Great Big Cookie Book is the actual title). I dont really have the space to accommodate more books (of any kind, but ask me if that stops me buying them), so after I'd brought the A3 sized hardbound book home, sheer guilt drove me to try out a recipe from it, just to justify buying it.

The photos of the almond cookies in the cookbook were mouth-watering, so I decided to try the almond cookie recipe. The recipe seemed simple enough on the face of it, but it turned out a little messier and a little more hard work than the book had indicated. As in, the dough in the book looked beautifully smooth and a perfect rectangle when rolled out (prior to cutting out shapes). Mine, on the other hand, had lots of cracks and did NOT roll out smoothly.

The recipe also said to sprinkle the sliced toasted almonds on the rolled out dough, then roll it out some more BEFORE cutting - not the best advice there, because it was not easy to cut through the almonds while retaining the shape of the cookies. I did the first batch the hard way, but for the second batch, I sprinkled the almonds on the cut squares. This was a bit time consuming but easier than what the book said.

Note: If anybody looks at the photos and thinks "oh look, after all that b*tching she's still rolled out the dough neatly", I'm afraid I have to burst the bubble and admit to cheating - I used a pizza cutter to trim away the wonky edges. I also didnt bother cutting out shapes - re-rolling lots of trimmings is not my idea of a fun time, so I just cut the dough into squares with my trusty pizza cutter.

A bit fiddly to make, these almond cookies, but they tasted lovely. The one addition I would have made, in retrospect, is a few drops of almond essence. They would have added the perfect finishing touch to some rather pretty cookies!

Method for:
Almond cookies


1/4 cup cold butter or margarine, chopped
2-1/4 cups self-raising flour
1 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup demerara sugar (or regular sugar)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg, separated
3-4 tbsp cold water (or as required)
1/2 cup flaked almonds
2 tsp almond essence (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Whisk the egg white lightly and reserve.

2. Rub the butter/margarine into the flour until you get a breadcrumb texture.

3. Mix the cinnamon with the caster sugar and stir it into the flour mix.

4. Add the egg yolk to the flour, add two tbsp cold water to start with, and mix into a firm dough, adding more cold water as required. (Dont make the dough sticky with too much water, though.)

5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board until it is 1/2 cm thick. Trim the edges with a pizza cutter or a sharp knife so that the edges are straight.

6. Cut into squares or rectangles. Transfer carefully to cookie sheets lined with non-stick baking paper. The cookies wont spread, so leave about 1/2 cm gap between each.

7. Press in a few almond flakes carefully on each square, then carefully brush the tops of the biscuits with the whisked egg white, using a pastry brush.

8. Sprinkle over the demerara or regular sugar.

9. Bake the cookes for 12-15 minutes, until golden.

The cookies will be a little soft so remove them carefully onto wire racks. The cookies will harden as they cool.

10. The cookies keep well when stored in an airtight container.


Krithika said...

Looks delicious !!

Vaishali said...

Note: If anybody looks trusty pizza cutter.

This is what I adore about you. So honest! I am sure the 'somebody' who rolled out the dough for the photographs in your book did it too, but didn't have the grace to accept it.:)
Btw, I too baked cookies last week. And guess what, I too have stacked them in my photograph. I am letting you know so that nobody thinks that I copied you. Because I didn't. Not this time. ;-)

S said...

That's the most scrumptious looking cookie i have seen shams. Somehow reminds me of the round butter biscuits with a pista on top stored in big glass bottles in the local bakeries in good ol'madras!
btw: how many cookies do u get with that measure of ingrds?

shammi said...

Thanks, S :) How many cookies you get depends on the size you make 'em, doesnt it? :) Mine were about 2" square and I got about 40.

shammi said...

Vaish: Hey, you're an original and so are your photos and everything you do. Stacking the cookies isnt exactly unheard of, anyway... :)

Krithika: Thanks