Monday, October 1, 2012
Have you ever blanched an almond? It's a quizzically satisfying chore to do. And easy too. An old ex-boyfriend actually taught me the trick. You bring whole almonds to a rolling boil for a few minutes and then drain them. After they cool for a few minutes, you pick up your first almond victim and simply pinch.
With a wet, gratifying slurp, pffft they come popping out of their skins, naked as a brand new baby. You are left with a wet, empty skin and a freshly peeled almond. Just perfect for making almondrettos with.
If that description alone doesn't send you running to the kitchen to put some almonds on to boil, maybe the deliciousness of these cookies will. They are almond through and through, soft and a little chewy when fresh out of the oven; hard, crunchy and biscotti-esque after just one day. They are beautifully, lightly scented with cinnamon that roasts atop while the cookies below bake to a golden hue. And just a little bit of lemon adds the perfect contrast to an almond screaming cookie. Maybe I am romanticizing a little bit here, but that's just my mood tonight. Nothing wrong with a little food love, right? And if it leads to a little bit of almond peeling/popping/blanching, in my opinion, that's just a night of good, clean fun.
Adapted from Cooking Light, Dec. 2011
I had leftover almond flour from previous cooking blog missteps. That seemed easier than peeling almonds and then trying to get them dry enough for pulsing in a food processor. Additionally, this was a fly-by-the-seat of my apron kind of recipe, made last minute because I almost had all the needed ingredients on hand. Lemon zest became lemon oil, a fantastic gift from my mom the last time she was in Amish country. Zest is probably easier to get than lemon oil, so either the oil or the zest of a small lemon.
2 - 2 1/4 c. almond flour
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. lemon oil
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
24-30 whole blanched almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with either sil-pat mats or parchment paper.
Add 2 c. almond flour to bowl of food processor, along with sugar, lemon oil (or zest), salt and egg. Pulse several times until dough comes together. It should be slightly sticky, but should all come together. Add more almond flour as necessary to get to right consistency (I ended up a little shy of 2 1/4 c.)
Turn dough out of food processor. Using roughly 1 Tbsp. of fough, roll balls slightly smaller than a ping-pong ball. Place on prepared baking sheet and light squish into a fat disk. Repeat with remaining dough until all used. Place cinnamon into a fine mesh sieve and lightly dust the dough disks. Firmly press a blanched almond in the center of each cookie.
Bake in 350 degree oven for about 16 minutes, until cookies are a golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool at least 3-4 minutes on the pan (this will help them come up cleaner). Remove and let finish cooling on wire racks.