A look at cooking freely within constraints –be they environmental or culinary or other.

Having major food allergies (all things cow related, shellfish, mushrooms and beer), I have had to adapt how and what I cook in order to eat “normally” – this in turn cultivated a love of cooking and feeding people.

Friday, October 8, 2010

mmmmm.... coooookies...... Part 1

So, after making almond milk, there is leftover almond pulp that is simply too good to throw away.  So I have been experimenting with different ways to use it.  One of my favorite ways, as of right now, is cookies.  Which I thought was an easy solution, until we discovered cookie wars in my kitchen.  I thought I had a really good cookie using the almond pulp, and in fact, I do.  It is simple, not too sweet, and in my eyes - perfect.  Then I had Sorin taste it.   He thought they were fine, overly simple, not sweet enough, and more of "A base for something brilliant".


I thought they were brilliant.

And so experimentation began.  I knew that I had a good cookie for those who don't like a cookie so sweet your teeth will itch, like me.  But I also had to recognize that there are a lot of folks out there who are like Sorin and like their sweets to be SWEET.  But what he said struck a cord - a good base.  What else could this cookie carry off?  Could this cookie be the "strong silent woman" behind the "successful man"?  And what would that successful man be made of?

The usual suspects came to mind, chocolate, caramel, preserves, coconut.... but what else could be added that would be unusual and "brilliant"?  My mind started ticking away on a marriage of subtle almond to boisterous X.  What is X?  Suddenly I feel like the culinary equivilent of EHarmony....  the pressure!

So what could be X - cardamon?  chai spice? rosemary?  rosewater?  lavender scented?  candied orange peel?  candied ginger?
And I am in Argentina right now, so some of my musings might be utterly impossible to try, but I am going to do my damnedest.
Here is a break down of the first of my attempts, along with the original recipe.

Simple Almond Cookie

1 cup margarine (you can substitute butter if you can/do eat that)
1 cup sugar
1 cup almond pulp
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups unbleached flour

Cream the margarine and sugar. Add the almond pulp, spices and vanilla.  Incorporate thoroughly.  Add in the flour until completely  incorporated.  You may need a little more flour if your almond pulp is overly wet.  You can add up to 1/2 cup flour more to make a nice, slightly sticky dough.  Chill for at least one hour - 4 hours is better.  Roll into small balls, roll in granulated sugar, then place on a greased cookie sheet and press them into thick discs.  Bake at a pre-heated oven of 350 for 15- 20 minutes.

You can stop there if you wish.  Or you can become adventerous and try one of the following:

Who does not like chocolate?  And more importantly, the marriage of dark chocolate to almond is a solid, tried and true connection.  Although, as Sorin stated, it is an expected match.  All you need to is chop a dark chocolate bar into inch sized bites, then roll the dough around the chocolate and bake as instructed above.  Simple.  I also rolled the chocolate cookies in dark, molvado sugar, which caramelized on the bottom, and it added a very satisfactory crunch to the cookie.  The dark chocolate was a nice addition, not over powering to the chocolate.  All in all, a winner.  And Sorin's favorite - despite the "expected match" statement.

Candied Ginger
I am a fan of the zing of ginger, so I chopped up some candied ginger and added it to the mixture when I added the almond pulp.  Approximately 1/4 cup of candied ginger to the dough - you can add more or less according to how zippy you want the end result.  This was my favorite.  The zip of the ginger melded with the smooth nuttiness of the almond, and a fantastic cookie was born.

Chai Spice
Where I am it is spring, but back on the Northern side of the equator, fall is coming.  And chai tea is one of my favorite fall and winter beverages.  And I thought the spices of chai would met the almond in a happy union.  I was right.  In addition to the cinnamon and ginger, add 1/2 tsp each cardamon, clove, all spice and nutmeg.  This was a spicy, deep and flavorful cookie.  I did not roll it in any sugar, which I preferred.  But I bet if you roll it in cinnamon sugar, it would add a nice sweetness to the spice.

I used my thumb to create a depression in the cookie and placed a dollop of raspberry jam.  I think I would have preferred peach or apricot, but alas, what I had was raspberry.  This was ok.  The jam sort of took over the cookie and elbowed the almond to the back corner.  Not my favorite, but I have a feeling the sweetness of the jam would be a hit with other folks.

Dulce de Leche
In Argentina - Dulce de Leche is their version of caramel and it is on EVERYTHING.  Now, caramel is not exactly friendly to non-dairy folks, so I adapted the recipe to be vegan.  1 cup of coconut milk, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of margarine, 1 tsp vanilla.  Cook over medium heat in a sauce pan until it is all incorporated, then allow to simmer for 20 minutes to a half hour until it is reduced and warm in color.  Then dollop onto the top of the cooked plain almond cookies.  Sweeeeeeeet! 
Note of warning - stay with your caramel!!  Do no - I repeat - do not ask your boyfriend to watch it while you go to the bathroom for 1 minute - you will come back to a burnt mess and your boyfriend industriously busy with his laptop, pretending everything is fine....  just sayin'.  Stay with your caramel or you will have a molten mess of yuck.


  1. Mmmmmm, yummy, yummy, yummy

    I'm up for the candied ginger and chai spice, why did you back up on the flower scents? Flowers and almonds go nicely, lavender, rosewater or orange blossom (which in Argentina has the Arab name of azahar). Specially with some Turkish coffee with cardamom.


    Defending the originality of Dulce de Leche (which I must do), caramel (caramelo) doesn't have to have milk, at least according to English wikipedia and the french and Spanish cooking books. Dulce de leche is milk-based. Sorry about that, my national pride........

    Keep cooking and start distributing more

  2. :-) Demian
    the flower and citrus versions are next. :-) I need to make more almond pulp and create another tester batch - those will be part 2. ;-)

  3. Wonder if a little sandwich cookie might work, ice cream or chocolate or dulce de leche or some such in between two? A sandwichito.