Saturday, December 20, 2014

Eggless Almond Thumbprint Cookies


My 2-year old took a 3 hour nap yesterday. It is something that happens fairly unpredictably in the last few months. Whenever that nap matches up with a day that I actually don't need one myself, I am amazed at how productive I can be.

I might have written the day off as a bad one, based on our morning. As we ran out to get cranberries from the store, I ran into some car problems. This meant that both our vehicles would now be away at the "car doctor" for a bit, and we also needed daddy to come rescue us at the grocery store. But he did rescue us, and the nice mechanic who called me Signora, and told my husband to listen to me next time I complained of noises from the car, was able to fix it in a few hours. On a side note, this is why I love my new suburban city - it's filled with all sorts of nice old-school charmy folks doing nice things and saying nice things and kissing both cheeks when they don't even know you. Not to say it's without politics, drama or hot issues - but the kindness is just more overt here than the city. I'm sure if daddy hadn't rescued us, some kind stranger would have, without hesitation.

Somewhere in the middle of this interesting day, my son threw down a perfectly timed 3-hour nap. I did dishes, showered and baked 2 batches of biscotti and these thumbprint cookies. Any parent of toddlers might agree, that no matter what else happened, this is a downright perfect-day-maker. Oh, and the kid loves the cookies too, and they're not all that unhealthy, so that's fine! He doesn't feel the same way about the pumpkin cranberry biscotti (which are pretty great), saying "I don't like them for my mouth" (he's got molars cutting through - joy).

Quick Pumpkin Cranberry Biscotti with Ginger
For the thumbprint cookies, a recipe from Food & Wine caught my eye. It used half almond flour, and was spiced with cardamom. Not my personal favorite spice, but my family all like it, and most likely I'd be giving most away. The only problem was that my husband's family don't eat eggs. I decided to give egg-replacer powder a second chance in this recipe, and it actually worked out! (I didn't have such luck with it in cake). I also added the jam halfway through baking, instead of after, so that it got firm enough to stay in place.

My husband asked if these are easy to make. For me, I'd say no, they're not easy. But not difficult either. I just really hate holding a heavy hand-mixer, and waiting for butter to soften, and shaping each cookie. Here is my version of the cardamom thumbprint cookies, neither too easy nor too difficult (but very delicious):

Eggless Almond Thumbprint Cookies
Makes 36-40 2-1/2" cookies

1 C almond meal
1 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1 T egg-replacer
3 T water (filtered)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 C sugar

Fruit preserves or chocolate spread. (I used Mixed Berry preserves and Nutella)

1. Heat oven to 350F.

2. Mix together almond meal, flour, cardamom and salt in a bowl.

3. In a small bowl, mix together egg replacer and water. Add vanilla and almond extract.

4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. (It may take quite a while, maybe 4-5 minutes).

5. Add egg replacer and extracts to the large bowl and continue to mix on medium speed. Add the flour mixture slowly until incorporated and a dough forms. 

6. Using your hands, form the dough into a large ball. Pinch off a little at a time and roll using your hands to make small 1" balls. Place the balls 3" apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten each ball to 1/4" thick using your hand and use your thumb to make a well in the middle. Bake for 8 minutes.

7. Remove cookies and use a small spoon to press down the wells in the centers. Fill each with 1 tsp of preserves or drop 1/2 tsp dollops of spread. Bake 8-10 more minutes, until firm but not browned. Cool a few minutes and then remove from pan to a cooling rack. 

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