Pains d'Amande... Almond Thins(Crunchy Tea Cookies). I know I posted a recipe for "Almond Thins" awhile back, but this recipe is a sweet version, rather than savory. When I first came across this recipe some time ago, I knew instantly the recipe would have to be made. I had been searching for a crispy, crunchy, nutty, caramel-y tea cookie for some time now. Was looking for the type of cookie that would be sturdy enough so I could pack them in a box and not have to worry about them falling apart... or be dunk-able in a mug of coffee or tea. Well, these cookies are definitely all that.
It's the type of cookie that's super-crunchy and the flavor reminiscent of ... well, cereal. Ok, well that's how my husband described it... said it sort of reminded him of the Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. Funny thing, it also reminded me of the Nature Valley Crunchy Granola bars....but these cookies contain zero oats:). Hmmm, I'm wondering if the white flour could be substituted with oat flour? It's a thought I might have to experiment with:)...
While this recipe was initially inspired by Food52 and David Lebovitz (and originally from Sweet Miniatures by Flo Braker), I ended up tweaking the recipe a bit... as always. Loved the result. And while this recipe is rather quick to prepare, you can make the cookie dough in advance and bake later. If you are planning on giving these cookies out as gifts, you may want to cut off the ends slightly(when you end up slicing the cookies)... to give you a better clean-cut look... I did that for just a few of mine. Or better yet, freeze the loaf before cutting slices. It's fun to be able to cut the cookies in smaller squares as well... or any shape you like. Well, almost any shape:).
Some time ago, I was given a small cookie cutter set(tea shapes) as a gift from my sweet sister-in-laws. I remember telling them how I had seen these super-cute sugar cookie "spoons" on a site... and how I thought the idea of making "spoon-shaped" cookies to serve with tea or coffee would be ever-so-cute. The spoon cookies could also elevate a simple bowl of ice scream into something rather fancy looking. Anyway, I suppose I kept talking about it( as I often do when I like something very much:)).... because my sister-in-law went and opened the kitchen cabinet drawer and pulled out a cookie cutter set. "Oh, is this what you mean?", she said. And there it was... the cute "lil teaspoon cookie cutter I had kept talking about! "Oh, you have one of those?!" I said. And well, because my sister-in-laws are ever so kind.... gifted me with those cute tea shape cookie cutters. Very sweet and gracious of them... thankful for their generosity!
So I thought of the spoon cookie cutter when I realized I had some cookie scraps. Made a small ball of dough and rolled it between parchment paper, took out my teaspoon cookie cutter, and had fun making some lovely almond thin "spoon" cookies. They were perfect for dunking in some coffee! The thought did cross my mind to dip the spoons in some melted chocolate... but I didn't:). In any case, if you like crunchy and nutty cookies, you might want to give these cookies a try. They are brittle-like in texture and stay extra crunchy for days. Oh, and they're sweet:). Hope you enjoy...
Note: Feel free to check out the original recipe that inspired me on the above mentioned links.
Tip: You will need a good sharp, serrated knife to cut thin slices... otherwise the dough can have the tendency to crumble on you. And you have to be patient when cutting... just take your time and cut slowly and thinly. But it helps a ton if you freeze the almond loaf and then cut slices as thin as you can.
Also, if you don't like super-crunchy cookies, opt to bake them for less... I ended up baking a few for half the time( didn't turn them over), allowed them to cool on the baking sheet and they were still crispy with a slight chew.
You will need:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut*
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 1/3 cups raw coarse cane sugar (or turbinado/demerara )
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sliced raw almonds
* feel free to omit coconut and use 1/3 cup of flour instead
1. In a bowl add flour, baking soda and coconut. Whisk thoroughly to aerate. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and water. Stir occasionally just until the butter melts.... you don't want the mixture to boil( you still want to have some sugar bits in the mixture which gives the cookies that crunchy texture).
3. Take off heat, add almond and vanilla extract. Stir in the almonds... and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
4. Pour the almond- sugar mixture over the dry ingredients, all at once. Stir thoroughly until well blended.
5. Line an 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. Press the soft dough well into the pan and level out. Cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate(or freeze) until firm. I left mine in the fridge for an hour(while I went for a walk:).... and was able to cut through the loaf as you would through fudge. But it really is much easier if the loaf is frozen.
~ Adjust rack to lower third of oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.~
~Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.~
1. Remove the firm dough from pan and place on a cutting board( I find it best to place a parchment paper on top of the cutting board, as the dough has a tendency to stick a bit).
2. Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice cookies as thin as you can.... 1/8-1/4 inch, crosswise. You can leave the slices large, or opt to cut them in smaller squares. I like to use a gentle sawing action when cutting through the slices.... if you just press down on the dough, it makes the slices uneven and not so nice looking... plus the dough sort of crumbles on you. You won't have to deal with this if the loaf is frozen.
3. Place cookies on parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing the cookies about 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheets.... they do puff up slightly.
4. Place baking sheet on the lower third rack and bake(one sheet at a time)... for 8 to 10 minutes... or until the undersides are light golden.
5. Turn cookies over and then bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Do be careful as they can burn quite easily. The cookies may seem soft, but will really crisp up as they continue to cool. Though baking time depends on cookie thickness. Allow cookies to cool completely.
6. Repeat with rest of cookies. Store cookies in an airtight container.