December 10: Almond Butter Sticks

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I’ve never officially made these as part of my 24 Days of Cookies, but I have made them before for other things. They are amazing. They are more than amazing, like stupendous, super duper, and outrageous (in a good way). They are so good that this is the first time I have doubled a recipe on an official cookie-baking day. 

I made these last week for my Composition 1 class, and they were gone within minutes. On the site where I got the recipe, the lady writes that they are deceptive and kids don’t normally go for them, which is fine because it means more for the adults. I agree with this statement, however my kids now know what these are, which means they will polish off a whole batch before someone else gets a chance to try one. Hence, the doubling. 

Normally, you mix 3/4 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons of almond extract and let it sit. Because I doubled it, that was 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 4 teaspoons. Now, I love almond, but even this was a bit strong-smelling to begin with. My son always likes to tell me how cyanide smells like almonds (thanks internet) so whenever I make this, I think about cyanide and wonder if it tastes as good as almond extract and sugar do. And then I schedule an appointment for a psychiatrist, because I clearly have some issues. 

In my mixer went double amounts as well: two sticks of unsalted butter and 12 ounces of cream cheese. I looked for the scene of the movie Julie and Julia, where Meryl Streep says there’s so much butter, it can stop your heart, but I couldn’t find it in gif form. But that’s where my head goes. (Along with cyanide, apparently.) This is definitely a rich dough. To that, I added two egg yolks instead of one (because, again doubling), and my dry ingredients, also doubled. 

(I keep saying I doubled it because I know I would probably miss it if someone said this in a blog and I’d compare my dough to their pictures and wonder where I went wrong. And then I’d probably cry or get mad or both and vow to never make anything again. So to make sure I don’t kill any one’s baking future, I keep saying that I doubled this recipe.)

For this dough, you do have to roll it out, which is not my favorite thing to do, but because these cookies are so good, I do it happily. My silicone mat is leftover from my Pampered Chef days and it has measurements on it, which is great because for this I need my dough to be a 12×12 square. (This part is not doubled! I just rolled it out twice for two batches.) I cut away whatever is above that measurement and add pieces of dough to where it’s lacking. 

From there, I split in in half and then take a tablespoon of butter and spread it all over the dough. Remember, these are called Almond Butter Sticks, and for good reason. Then, one half the dough goes on a cookie sheet and the almond sugar is spread on. 

The other half is then put on top, butter-side down, and I pinch the edges to make sure they stay closed. You want all this almond buttery goodness inside the dough, I promise. Brush on the egg white and top with sliced almonds and sugar, and in a 375 degree oven it goes. 

Because this dough has no sugar in it, your kids will not be interested in licking the bowl. At all. But, my feline friends are all about it. 

You can’t tell here, but they were definitely licking it clean. I even gave them the rubber spatula. They’re sleeping it off now. 

As this bakes, your house will smell like a warm french pastry, which is something I’m okay with. 

Let it cool, and then cut it in half lengthwise, and then cut pieces in one inch increments. 

Drool.

Almond Butter Sticks

(courtesy of Saving Dessert)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon (divided)
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg, separated (white reserved for glazing)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sugar for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl combine the sugar and almond extract; cover and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) butter and cream cheese. Beat on low until blended. Add the egg yolk and blend until smooth. Add half the flour mixture and beat on low until combined. Add the remaining flour and blend just until the dough starts to come together.
  6. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Knead by hand about 25 strokes until the dough is pliable. Roll or press into a 12×12 inch square. Spread with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.
  7. Cut the dough in half and place one half on the prepared cookie sheet, butter side up.
  8. Spoon the sugar mixture to within 1/2-inch of the dough edges all the way around. Place the remaining dough half, butter side down, over the sugar. Press the edges tightly to seal.
  9. Brush the dough with a lightly beaten egg white. Sprinkle with almonds and coarse sugar.
  10. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. It’s best removed from the oven when you think it needs one or two more minutes.
  11. Cool at least 30 minutes.
  12. Cut the pastry in half lengthwise and then into 1/2 to 1 inch strips crosswise.
  13. Store in an airtight container.

Welcome to December 2018!

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So we’ve made it to the end of this crazy year. A lot has changed for me this year–I have graduated from grad school (with TWO masters degrees), packed up the kids and cats and moved 1000 miles to the suburbs of Chicago, and somehow found a job in my field. 

When people ask me what I do for fun, I have to think. I’ve been so used to not having time for hobbies, that I’m lost when this question is asked. However, I realized that this is what I do for fun. I bake cookies. I look for complicated or classic recipes. I collect sprinkles. (Seriously. I think I have a problem.) 

I have been doing this crazy 24 days of cookies thing officially since 2004. I started posting my recipes on Facebook in 2008, and created this website in 2012. I’ve gone through a lot of sugar, a lot of butter, and a lot of my sanity. 

So welcome to this leg of my yearly journey. This year, I’m going to do something different and have at least 50% new recipes. Please tell me what you think, and if you’re following along with me. I love to hear from all of you!

November 16: Pre-game

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Like any good professional with a deadline, I have to make sure I’m warmed up.

And, like any good double X-ed person out there, I tend to visit Pinterest with lots of good intentions.

For your reading pleasure, I give you:

Web-lebrities*, They’re Just Like Us!

(*Some liberties have been taking with considering myself a web-lebrity.)

I saw a pin and wanted to try it out. Maybe you’ve seen it? It’s the one about how to ice cookies really fast, with gorgeous results.

(You can see my Pinterest page and the board this pin is on HERE.)

I bought a bag of pre-done cookie mix yesterday. I didn’t concern myself too much with the guilt of not making these from scratch. After all, it was the frosting of the cookies I was practicing, not the baking.

After the kids went to bed, I mixed it all up, cut some cookies and threw them in the oven. That’s when I mixed up the icing from the recipe.

I think I mis-counted how many cups of powdered sugar I poured in, because my mixer now smells like a fire at a tire factory. It was just too thick. I added more water. And more water. And a little cream. A little more water.

Finally, I could pour my icing into my shallow dish. The instructions said to use a lollipop stick, secured by a rubber band. I improvised and used a small spatula and two rubber bands linked together. I was so happy I saved these from newspapers this week, you have no idea. Seriously. It’s a personal success.

 

I was going for red. After the third hunk of Red Wilton dye, I gave up. There is only so many artificial colors I'll let my family eat.

I was going for red. After the third hunk of Red Wilton dye, I gave up. There are only so many artificial colors I’ll let my family eat at once.

I then dipped my cookies.

Smothering sugar cookies to a delicious death.

Smothering sugar cookies to a delicious death.

And in the end, this is what I had:

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

Wait. Wait, what’s that under the tray of beautifully iced cookies?

::hangs head in shame::

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Those are the cookies that died in battle. You see, some of my cookies were too soft to withstand the thick frosting. Some, like the snowflakes, had too many intricate parts and things broke off. And still, a few more were sacrificed under the “trial and error” category. That is, it took me a few tries to figure out how to hold a cookie the right way to get it frosted in this method.

After completing all of this and sitting down to my computer (thinking of all the snarky comments I could make about how maybe mere mortals like myself were better off with a knife or pastry bag), I re-read the instructions. Wait. That’s not right. Re-reading makes it sound like I read them fully to begin with. Yeah, notsomuch.

What it says in the instructions is basically what I learned the hard way: soft cookies don’t work well, thicker cookies hold up better, and this icing is like glue that you may need to water down.

Reading: it’s not for every one.