When I was invited to help co-host the #CookieLove Blog Hop for December, I was both flattered to be considered, and, quite frankly, terrified to accept because, well, I'm a cook, not a baker. And cookies are very different from cakes and pies. I can follow a cookie recipe, but to develop one is not exactly something I felt I could do. I thought about it and nearly decided to decline, but then I realized that this could be a fun challenge, one where I could step into a different category within the subject I love, and conquer a fear. So, I accepted and immediately began working out several cookie recipes, desperately hoping I could actually do it without just ultimately showcasing already published recipes all month long (which is usually what I end up baking at my house during the holiday season).
Cooking is primarily instinct and experience; we know what our ingredients taste like and can usually match them well enough to work out a fine dish, using a little bit of this a little more of that, and so on until we find a delicious balance. But baking is more scientific; each of the ingredients serve a specific purpose that not only affects the flavor, but the texture, the size, and the shape. And then there is the issue of sugar, which is a pretty important part of baking sweets. Since I'm not much of a sugary sort of gal, I knew this would be one of my biggest challenges.
The first batch of cookies I made were supposed to be Cranberry Nut Pinwheels. The dough was too sticky and hard to work with, but I thought it would be better after it chilled. It was, but only slightly. My cookies expanded very little, and never became larger than a half dollar. And the cranberry nut filling just kind of melted into the dough. They ended up looking like this:
|my failed cranberry nut pinwheels|
The Cherry Filled Almond Cookies turned out exactly as I had hoped, though. I was shooting for a naturally sweetened spin on the traditional thumbprint style cookie, and I found it quite easily. A tender but sturdy cookie, flavored with honey and almonds on the inside and studded with more almonds on the outside - the perfect vessel to hold a delicious dollop of cherry preserves. And they are not ugly!
A word about the cherry preserves - if you are not using your own super delicious homemade cherry preserves (I didn't either), please look for someone else's super delicious homemade cherry preserves. Commercial jams and jellies are not what we are looking for with these cookies; a good, solid, real cherry flavor (with actual real cherries), preferably naturally sweetened, jam or preserve can be found in local specialty shops or at farmer's markets everywhere, and I suggest using one of those to fill these tasty little cookies.
Please be sure to check out all the fabulous cookie recipes included in the Cookie Love Blog Hop during the month of December listed just beneath this recipe!
Cherry Filled Almond Cookies
makes about 2 dozen
- 1/4 c raw honey
- 1/2 c butter, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp pure almond extract (such as Simply Organic Almond Extract)
- 1 egg, separated*
- 1/2 c whole wheat flour
- 1/2 c unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 c almonds, finely chopped
- 1/3-1/2 c cherry preserves
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, combine honey, butter, almond extract, egg yolk*.
*To separate an egg white from the egg yolk, simply crack the egg and pass the yolk between the halves of the shell, allowing the white to fall into a small bowl (we will be using the white later, so be sure it has its own bowl).
With an electric hand held mixer, beat until smooth.
Stir in the flour and salt until well combined and dough holds together.
Beat the egg white slightly with a fork - just until it isn't gloppy. Place the finely chopped almonds in a separate bowl.
Shape the dough into 1 inch balls by gently rolling the balls between both palms.
|sorry for the blur|
Dip the balls into the egg white, shake off excess.
Roll the balls in the chopped almonds, ensuring they are completely covered.
Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Press your thumb deeply into the center of each ball. (My own thumbprint isn't very wide, so I opened the indentation somewhat)
Bake about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove to a rack and cool completely.
Fill the indentations with 1/2 - 1 tsp cherry preserves.
Please join in on the #cookielove fun by linking up any cookie recipe from the month of December 2011. Don't forget to link back to this post so that your readers know to stop by the #cookielove event! The twitter hashtag is #cookielove.
CookieLove Blog Hop Co-Hosts
Badger Girl Learns to Cook
Baking and Cooking, A Tale of Two Loves
Big Fat Baker
Bloc de recetas
Bon a croquer
Creative Cooking Corner
Easily Good Eats
Hobby and More
No One Likes Crumbley Cookies
Savoring Every Bite
Soni's Food For Thought
Teaspoon of Spice
That Skinny Chick Can Bake!!!
The Art of Cooking Real Food
The Spicy RD
The Wimpy Vegetarian
Vegan Yack Attack