Here’s the story of an ugly-duckling cookie. Anyway, it’s the story of a cookie that I improved.
I make seven or eight different cookies at Christmastime. One of the less popular at my house was a sprutter: a butter cookie flavored with almond usually put through a press. I never bothered with the cookie press, because I never had one. I would roll the dough into a small ball and thumbprint it, then maybe add an almond sliver on top.
When early December comes, I have to churn cookies out fast in double or triple batches until the tins are filled. Many tins. I have to bake til I lose count. There has to be a cookie-making frenzy, and I’ve been known to make too many.
The cookies have to last from Christmas Eve until at least New Year’s Day, and preferably until the end of the week after that. The eight people who live here plus significant others plus company must be able to eat cookies at will. I make cinnamon buns for gifts: I generally don’t give cookies as gifts because I hoard them against running out. It’s an irrational fear, I know, but I’m not intending to deal with it yet.
The law here is that each person may eat one cookie per batch as I bake them. The rest are put away-in tins, in a cabinet, in the shed and no one may open!
Then comes the Food Season. Starting on the evening of December 24, all restraint is utterly thrown away, cookie-wise.
I love baking, and I love everything about Christmas. The smell of baking cookies takes me right back to my Mom’s kitchen as she also baked the same cookies for all of us kids.
For me, baking is an absolutely necessary part of the Christmas season. Now I get to be the cookie baker, the sharer of comfort and cheer.
This cookie has evolved.
My sprutter were to be a bland palate-cleanser cookie–to be eaten in between servings of Double Chocolate Crinkles or Hershey’s Kiss-topped PB. A variation of the plain butter-sugar cookie. But this year I decided to try a pat of jam on the top. And why not try a couple chocolate chips on top too?
Something happened. The tastes of sweetness, almond, and slight saltiness blended in a fresh way when the jam was added. They were equally as lovely when topped with the slightly bitter chocolate chip.
Here’s what happened. The last batch I made gave me a little trouble. For some reason, the dough was too wet to roll into balls. Gradually adding bits of additional flour, I kept whipping and whipping that dough in the mixer.
Finally I decided to make them drop cookies. I dropped very small mounds on to the cookie sheet, then I put dabs of raspberry jam on the cookies on the first sheet, and chocolate chips on the next sheet.
What emerged was the best cookie I’ve ever made. It is light and crisp yet soft, owing, I suppose, to the extra mixing. It is delicate, probably because it was not compressed into a ball.
I use no special ingredients in this recipe. I buy generic or store-brand versions of all ingredients.
** I have altered the amount of flour…They are noticeably moister and creamier with 2 cups of flour. The batter should be just slightly toward too-messy-to-roll.
Rich Light Almond Cookies with Jam or Chocolate
1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 almond extract
Mix for quite awhile. I don’t time things.
Drop very small mounds of dough onto a cookie sheet. Place two or three chocolate chips on top. Or spread a dab of jam on top.
Bake at 350 until just slightly browned at the edges. ( I don’t time things.) Lift carefully from the sheet to a cooling rack. Enjoy a couple while still warm. They’re even better that way.
I double or triple this recipe. (Remember that when you multiply a recipe, you don’t need to multiply items such as flavoring extract, like vanilla or almond, or items such as salt or baking powder.)
Pictures as soon as I bake another batch.