(At least, I think I still like doing it…)
Growing up in my family, the holidays just weren’t the holidays without our having at least 13 batches of home-baked cookies on hand. In addition to helping bake the cookies, my “job” was often to arrange the cookie plate with cookies selected from each of the 13 tins. I still like to bake, but these days my holiday baking is more for giving away to friends and family. Why? Because I now prefer the taste of almond flour to white flour, and I also try to avoid eating sugar if I can.
Therefore, this year I’ve decided I will try and “make-over” a few holiday cookie recipes so that my husband and I can enjoy the spirit of the season without feeling like beached whales by the end of it. In addition to my standard must-have-in-the-house/freezer-at-all-times Chocolate Oat Almond Flour Cookies with Crystallized Ginger (pictured in the middle, below), I’ve now made Almond Macaroons (top of plate, below) and Coconut Macaroons (bottom of plate, below.)
The Almond Macaroons are flour-free, while the Coconut Macaroons have only 1/3 cup of flour. I will experiment reducing the sugar in my next batch of Almond Macaroons because the cookies are quite sweet. In case you’re interested, here are the recipes (from The Great Big Cookie Book by Hilaire Walden):
(Makes 12 to 24 depending on the size)
1 1/2 cups blanched almonds, toasted*
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat mat. Reserve 24 almonds for decorating. In a food processor grind the rest of the almonds with the sugar.
With the machine running, slowly pour in enough of the egg whites to form a soft dough. Add the almond extract and pulse to mix.
With moistened hands, shape the mixture into walnut-size balls and arrange on the baking sheet.
Press one of the reserve almonds onto each ball, flattening the cookie slightly, and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until the tops are golden and feel slightly firm. Cool on a wire rack.
(*Toast the almonds on a baking sheet in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes.)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups dried (unsweetened) coconut
2/3 cup condensed milk (I use condensed coconut milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 package bittersweet (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with waxed paper or a Silpat mat.
Sit the flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the dried coconut.
Pour in the sweetened condensed milk (or condensed coconut milk). Add the vanilla extract and stir together from the center. Continue stirring until a very thick batter is formed.
Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter 1 inch apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. When melted, dip the bottoms of the cooled cookies into the chocolate and place the cookies on their side to allow the chocolate to set.
P.S. All three cookie recipes above keep very nicely in the freezer. That way, you’re also less likely to over indulge, too!
My mother didn’t bake much, but one thing she really got right was the part about reducing the sugar. I also don’t bake much or make many desserts, but when I do, I routinely cut the sugar in half, depending on the recipe’s origin (USA=cut the sugar). It always tastes better. Your cookies look great, and so does your assistant pastry chef!
I, too, have taken to cutting back the sugar. Sometimes to make up the volume (as with my chocolate oat ginger cookies) I replace half the sugar with non-fat powdered milk. The milk has no added sugar, but it does have naturally occurring sugars. Now that I’m used to lower sugar and almond flour, regular flour/sugar cookies taste pasty and way too sweet for me.
Glad you liked my little “sous chef.” Did you notice her foot prints in the dough? Hee-hee.
Xoxo – Joana