Friday, May 10, 2013

Vanilla Orange Almond Cookies

Almond Cloud Cookies
I LOVED these cookies.  LOVED.  They were so good- chewy and soft, wonderful flavors all combining together (vanilla, almond, orange); texture of Pignoli Cookies or Spanish Panellets.  I love cookies made with almond paste or almond meal.  These cookies are also gluten-free and butter-free!  I brought some almond paste back with me on my last trip to Germany.  If you can't find it in a store, you can buy it online (I think has some) or make it at home (bottom of post).  
Almond Cloud Cookies
You're supposed to make a three-fingered imprint on these cookies, but they were too small to fit all my fingers up in there, and my fingers aren't huge or anything!  I used my smallest cookie scoop, which is about a Tablespoon, so maybe they were supposed to be bigger.  I liked the small size, though.  Anyway, I just used two fingers for the design.  

When making cookies like this, sometimes the batter can be too wet if using all the eggs.  So, I always start out adding about half and see how the texture is.  It should be like cookie dough; not really spreading at all.  If it's too dry, add more of the egg.  If it's too wet, add some almond meal/flour.  I don't remember if I ended up using all the egg whites in this recipe; I don't think I needed them all.  Make sure to beat them well so they don't all gelatinous-ly plop into the bowl at once.  
Almond Cloud Cookies
Vanilla Orange Almond Cookies
adapted from Joy the Baker
18-21 cookies

1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
10 ounces almond paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
powdered sugar

1.  Place two racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2.  In a small bowl, mix together granulated sugar, orange zest, and scraped vanilla seeds.  Use your fingers to works the zest and vanilla into the sugar, creating a fragrant, moist sugar.

3.  Place sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the almond paste and salt.  Beat on medium speed creating a crumbly sugar and almond mixture.

4.  While almond mixture is combining in the mixer, place two egg whites in a small bowl.  Whisk  with a fork until loose and frothy.  (This will help in pouring the egg whites into the mixer.  If the eggs are unbeaten, they’ll just plop into the mixing bowl and not pour in.)

5.  With the mixer on medium speed, gradually pour the egg whites in to the crumbly almond and sugar mixture.  Do not pour all of the egg whites in at first; it might make it too loose.  You want a thick dough that is like cookie dough, not loose.  Beat until a smooth paste is formed.  Add the almond extract and beat to combine.

6.  Spoon or scoop batter by the heaping tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet.  I used my smallest cookie scoop and it was perfect.  Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.  Using the tips of two or three of your fingers, make indentations in each cookie.

7.  Bake cookies for 15 to 25 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned on top.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan.  Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.  
Almond Cloud Cookies
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