Almond Cookies

Chinese almond cookies

新年快樂! ( Xin Nian Kuai Le!)  Happy New Year!

Let’s begin the year of the horse with a sweet recipe like almond cookies!  I love almond cookies.  It is not impossible to eat a whole box of almond cookies in one afternoon if I can just pretend that there is no consequence. :)  So instead of finding ways to get around it, I have chosen to focus on the how-to bake almond cookies, and it’s a perfect time.  When our friends and families drop by during 15 days of Chinese New Year celebration (January 31st to February 14th), I will serve these homemade almond cookies with barley tea.

I stopped buying almond cookies in the pink box because of the additives or preservatives in those cookies for longer shelf life.  This explain why I was so happy when I stumbled upon Table For Two  post’s on almond cookies.  It’s an easy recipe with pictures that look yummy enough to take a bite!

 As always, I tweaked the recipe a little: reduced the original sugar amounts whenever possible.  Instead of almond flour I used  ground almond meal because I have it in my pantry, and ground almond meal is less expensive.  I creamed the butter to fluffily before adding in other ingredients when I make cookies.  The result was light, chewy-centered, and crunchy over-all almond cookies. (They kind of remind me of Italian almond cookies, ricciarelli).  They had good texture and tasted great even though, they did not have the golden color as Table For Two. (Next time I will try one egg plus a yolk for egg wash to see if I can achieve the golden color).  So without further adieu, here the recipe. 

Ingredients:

  • 160 grams (1 1/3 cup)  ground almond meal
  • 226 grams (1 cup) cold butter, cut into thin slices   ( I left the butter at room temperature for 5 minutes before using)
  • 2 eggs (1 to use for egg wash)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons almond extract
  • 218 grams (1 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 200 grams (slightly less than 1 cup) sugar-in-the-raw
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 °F (162 °C)
To make cookie dough:
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, sugar, and baking soda.  Set aside.
  2. Add all the slices of butter into a standing mixer, using the paddle attachment beat the butter on low speed until it is fluffy.
  3. Add in the almond flour and salt into the butter.  On low-speed, mix them into the butter to just blend.  It will look coarse.
  4. Add in one egg, and almond extract into the almond-butter mixture until ingredients just come together.
  5. Add to the egg mixture, the dry ingredients (from step 1). Mix ingredients together until just blend.  (don’t over mix to avoid hard cookies)
  6. Transfer the mixed cookie dough onto a slightly flour table top.  Roll the cookie dough into a round ball and then gently flatten it with your hand into a disk.  Wrap the disk with wax paper or saran wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours (Table For Two instructed 2 hours).

To form cookies:

  1. Remove the chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before baking.
  2. Using a 1-teaspoon scoop scoop a spoonful of cookie dough without leveling the spoon (roughly about 20 grams). Roll the dough into a ball.   Gently flatten the dough slightly, and place on baking sheet.  Set each cookies dough 1 inch apart.
  3. Using the back of a 1/4 teaspoon, press onto the center of the cookie dough to make a small groove.
  4. Gently press in a sliver of almond into the groove.

To Bake:

  1. Whisk an egg in a small bowl.  Dip the pastry brush into the egg mixture then gently brush the tops of unbaked cookies.
  2. Place the baking sheet into the middle of oven.
  3. Bake for 18 minutes.  When done, remove from oven and transfer cookies to cooling rack.  Let cool and store in tight lid cookie jar for up to a week. (It’s so good that you may not have any left to store!)

So let’s say good-bye to the additives laden cookies, and bake yourself and your family a batch of this light, chewy, crispy almond cookies.  Nothing taste as good as freshly home baked cookies just-out-off-the-oven.  One bite and you will understand why I can eat the whole jar of cookies in one afternoon.

Happy Baking!

:)

Barley Tea

barley tea

Barley is the new favorite grain on my weekly grocery list.  As I searched for new ways to use this new-found favorite, I realized that I need to drink more tea (because my  water intake is really embarrassing). What better way to do it than drinking barley tea which by the way, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean have been brewing roasted barley tea for centuries. Not sure about barley tea? Let’s look at the health benefits before you make up your mind.  It contains antioxidants, improves fluidity of blood, helps relieve stress, and other possible benefits.  This tea has a nutty flavor and is caffeine-free (but not gluten-free). So brew yourself a cup.  Kick off your shoes, and relax with a cup of this amber brown, nutty aromatic tea.  aah.

Note: Many Korean, Chinese, or Japanese grocers carry roasted barley tea .  If you don’t find it in your local Asian grocer, you can roast it at home.  Roast the (hull) barley  in a heavy pan over the stovetop, with medium-low heat for five minutes.  Stir frequently to  avoid burning the grains.  Roast for five minutes or until you start to smell the nutty aroma.

Ingredient:

  • 26 grams  (3 tablespoons for lighter tea)  or 34 grams (4 tablespoons for stronger tea) roasted barley
  • 1000 milliliters (4 cups) water

Direction:

  1. In a small saucepan, add in roasted barley and water.  Bring water to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to medium-low.  Let it simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Strain out the barley grains (You can brew another batch with these grains. So do not throw it out after one brew!)
  3. Serve it hot or cold. Sweeten with honey or sugar if desired.  I don’t sweeten my tea (no need for added calories) just like to enjoy it as is with all its nuttiness. :)  Why not try it unsweetened before adding sweeteners?

Enjoy!