Crunchiest Almond Cookies

Pains d’Amande  (adapted from Flo Braker) 40 1×3 inch cookies

Crisp cookies often involve rolling and cutting the dough—time consuming and fiddly. Here is a recipe for a thin, crunchy cookie that is not fiddly. In fact, the recipe and the process are easy, and the cookies, despite being very thin, are not fragile.

1/3 cup water

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 tsp salt

220 gr. turbinado  or other natural, highly flavored sugar (Demerara, Hawaiian washed, etc.) (scant 1 cup) Do not use ordinary brown sugar (which is just white sugar with molasses) as the molasses will prevent the cookies from being crisp. (I tried!)

325 gr. all purpose flour (approx. 2 cups) (It’s OK to substitute gluten-free flour by weight: I used 2/3 fine white rice flour, 1/3 starch–tapioca, corn, or potato, ½ tsp xanthan gum. Note that GF will be more delicate and liable to break.)

¼ tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon 

¼ tsp each cloves, cardamon, and allspice

6 ounces sliced almonds  (the photos above show cookies made with 4 ounces of almonds, but I’ve since discovered I like them better with more nuts and more spice. I’ve updated the spices, too.)

Melt butter in water, then add sugar and salt. Don’t let the mixture boil—it makes the cookies more crunchy to have some of the sugar remain unmelted.  Add other dry ingredients (which have been whisked together) all at once and blend thoroughly. Then stir in the almonds.

Let cool. Pack into rectangular tin (loaf pan, etc.) lined with plastic wrap. The dough will be like fudge. Freeze or chill until very firm. Unmold on cutting board. With a large, very sharp knife cut slices as thin as possible—1/16th inch—either rectangular or square. (The size of the pieces will depend on the size of your pan, although you could cut them in half.) Bake spaced apart on parchment at 325 for 10 minutes. Then take out of oven and let cool until you can turn them easily with your fingers (without burning yourself or breaking the cookies) and return to the oven to bake for another 10 minutes. A small angled spatula is useful for turning, too.  Let cool—cookies should be very crisp when cool. Packed together like cards in a deck, they are sturdy enough to mail.

The recipe can be made with different flavoring—½ teaspoon of almond extract to intensify the almond flavor, or 1/4 teaspoon of citrus essential oil, or different or more ground spices. The next time I make it, I’m going to use sesame or flax seeds instead of almonds.

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