Almond sandy cookies
Reader Chew emailed me this recipe just before CNY and the cookies are a hit with my visitors so I thought you'd like to make a batch too. The recipe is provided by the American high-end home retail company Williams-Sonoma. The unusual thing about this recipe is that brown butter (beurre noisette, the butter used in making financiers) is used instead of regular butter, giving the cookies a 'toasty, nutty' flavor and a wonderful aroma in your house, as pointed out by Chew. Thank you, Chew, for sending me the recipe. I do appreciate readers sending me their fave recipes so do keep them coming.
If there's anything I would change about the recipe, it's the amount of sugar. We have been reducing our sugar intake (Yi's convinced that sugar is poison, after reading a book called 'Sweet Poison') and our taste buds have become sensitive to sugar.
I found the dough rather difficult to work with because it was dry and friable. My cookies look more sandy than those in the Williams-Sonoma's photo that Chew sent me. I think that a spoonful of egg white or water can get them smooth. Maybe I'll do that next time so that the dough will be easier to handle. However, if you want the sandy texture, stay true to the recipe. I think this recipe will work with cashew nuts, peanuts, any nuts. Try it.
Almond Sandy Cookies
5 oz/155 g caster sugar (I would reduce this to 4 oz)
2 1/2 oz/75 g blanched chopped/nibbed almonds
3/4 cups whole almonds (blanched or unblanched) for decoration
1 cup/8 fluid oz/250 g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 t almond essence
9 oz/280 g plain flour
2 t baking powder
pinch of salt
1 egg white, beaten (I used a whole egg)
1. Put the butter into a small pot over medium heat until it melts and foams. Reduce heat to low and let it simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until the butter is golden (I like the butter a deep golden color so I cook it longer). Remove from heat, let it cool slightly (5 minutes) and skim off the foam. Pour the butter into a measuring jug, discarding the white solids at the bottom. There should be 3/4 cup of brown butter.
2. Combine the sugar and chopped almonds in a food processor using short pulses. Add the brown butter and almond essence, stirring the dough with a wooden spoon.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the butter mixture, stirring until the dough is well-blended.
4. Preheat oven to 150 C/300 F (ovens differ; I heated mine to 160 C). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
5. With lightly-floured hands, roll the dough into 2 cm (3/4") balls and place them 2.5 cm/1 " apart on the baking tray. Brush the top of each ball with the beaten egg (if you use the yolk too, the cookies'll have a golden color) and press a whole almond onto the center. Pinch together any cracks. The dough is quite dry and 'sandy' and hard to mould.
6. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely in the baking tray before removing the cookies.