I might be a bit of a chocoholic. Let’s examine the evidence:
- Of all the tags on this blog, “chocolate” is second, with 98 posts as of this writing. Second only to “baking,” with 114.
- Which means that there are only 16 baking posts that don’t use chocolate.
- When it comes to cookies, the proportion is even more nutso: Fewer than five of my cookie recipes are chocolate-free.
- I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten some type of chocolate—in plain, candy, baked, or liquid form—every day for the last decade. Possibly longer.
Frankly, I see nothing wrong with this. Do you?
But variety is the slice of life, some people say. So when the lovely folks at Oh Nuts, a company I’ve raved about several times over the years, offered me some samples for my holiday baking, I thought I’d try something new.
I had no particular plan for the stuff; I figured inspiration would strike once it arrived. And when it did, the flour’s texture intrigued me. It was powdery, almost ethereal—but like good packing snow, it settled quickly into something denser. Whatever I decided to make it should be simple, to let the almondiness shine through.
The winner: snickerdoodles. They’re simple, no? Sweet dough balls rolled in cinnamon sugar, baked until they puff up and settle into a crackly-surfaced, chewy/crunchy cookie. Adding almond to the mix seemed like it just might work. And boy, did it. I find almond flavoring in baked goods to be subtle, sophisticated, somewhat mysterious, and adding that layer to a basic cookie like the snickerdoodle was a stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The chewiness is accentuated, and the almond flavor adds a certain depth—I kept sneaking back into the kitchen for just one more.
These cookies are so good, they don’t even need chocolate.
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum Naturals; it’s non-hydrogenated & trans fat-free)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups almond flour (from blanched almonds, no skin)
1/2 cup raw or demerara sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease or line two cookie sheets.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the shortening, butter, sugar, extract, baking powder, and salt. Stop when it’s smooth—almost fluffy, but not quite. Add the eggs and beat again until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the flours and mix on low, just until combined.
- Now, make the coating: In a shallow bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.
- Scoop out about a tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball. (I used a small cookie scoop, generously filled, and skipped the rolling part.) Put it into the bowl of coating, and do a few more. When you’ve got four or five dough balls in the bowl, gently spoon the coating mixture over the tops, then roll them around to coat completely. Transfer to the cookie sheets, and repeat.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, switching placement of the cookie sheets halfway through, until cookies are golden brown around the edges.
- Let them sit on the baking sheet for a minute or two, until firm enough to move, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
MAKE BABY FOOD: Only for special occasions, please. And only if there are no nut allergies in your immediate family.