Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day 1: Almond Amaretto Cookies

Merry Christmas to all :D I just love the Christmas season. Of course, there's some presents, the non-stop crazily hectic fun baking.. but most of all, the love. To be around family and friends, when everyone is finally stopping to take a break and have fun.

Well, Christmas is here and I've only just started on my Christmas baking. The downside of being overseas till Christmas Eve. Since it is Christmas, and I haven't had the chance to do any christmas-y treats, I'll just lie to myself: 12 Days of Christmas! From today till 5 January 2013, I'll be baking Christmas themed treats. Well, enjoy, hm?

You know how much I love baking with alcohol. When used correctly, the way it enhances the flavours in the cookies creates a unique depth that really just can't be matched.

Since I'm making an almond cookie, I opted for Amaretto, an almond flavoured liqueur, in both the cookie and glaze. In the cookie, it's only a little bit, replacing the vanilla essence to bring out the flavour of the cookie dough. For the glaze, however, the liqueur is much strong. It is Amaretto glaze afterall. I felt like adding a more alcoholic touch to these cookies as most of the recipients are pretty much adults. Pretty much. Well, a little (okay, a little more than a little) alcohol never did anyone harm, right?

The nutmeg and cloves in these cookies added a little warmth to them, making them perfect for Christmas. Like I said in my white chocolate hazelnut spice cookies: 'sitting in front of a fireplace during winter, snuggled up in thick blankets and savouring these cookies with a glass of warm milk.' The first bite is always the best. The flavours simply surprise you with their complexity, the burst of warmth and spice.

Silvered almonds add a delightful crunchy to the soft, chewy cookie. Yes, I took pains to ensure that the cookie turned out soft and chewy, not hard and crunchy. That's just me and my chewy obsession at work haha.

This batch was a way too big batch of test baking for the cookie presents I'll be giving to my friends this year. I never expected them to turn out so good, but they did, and my family devoured the batch of 11 within a day. I guess I'll have to make them again huh.

It's the holidays, but I really really really don't want to put on too much weight. I tried to make these a little healthier by using 1 part wholemeal flour to 1 part plain flour. But of course, that's just a delusion. How can these cookies be even close to healthy with all that icing and glaze on them? Healthy and cookies are two words that just don't go together. Yet. Yet. I promise I will find a way to make completely healthy cookies one day. But for now, for the holidays, that can wait. Let's just indulge ^^

(makes 11)
40g whole wheat flour
40g plain flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg, grated
1/8 tsp clove, grated
1/8 tsp salt

42g butter, softened
1/16 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar

30g egg
1 tbsp amaretto

1/4 cup silvered almonds

Glaze (enough for 11 cookies)
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp amaretto (or any nut flavoured liqueur)

Royal Icing (this batch makes too much for the cookies)
2 egg whites
2 tsp lemon juice
3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
food colouring as necessary (paste is better as liquid colouring may make the icing too watery)

1. Whisk together whole wheat flour, plain flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.

2. Cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar till light and fluffy. You can do this with an electric mixer or a spatula.

3. Whisk in the egg and amaretto till smooth.

4. Fold in flour mixture until well incorporated.

5. Fold in almonds.

6. Scoop dough by the tablespoon onto a cookie sheet.

I used a small ice cream scoop for this.

7. Bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 14 minutes till they're lightly browned.

8. Let rest on the cookie sheet for about 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
*If they poofed up too much in the oven or didn't spread enough, just press them down lightly with a small plate to flatten them.

1. Whisk together amaretto and icing sugar till completely smooth.

2. Spread over cooled cookies. It should harden within 15-30 minutes.

You could flood the cookies and let the glaze drip down for a pretty effect, if you want to.

Royal Icing
1. Whisk together egg whites and lemon juice.

2. Whisk in icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time, until you've reached the right consistency (icing should hold a ribbon for a few seconds on the surface when you lift the whisk and it drips back).

3. Whisk in colouring if desired.

4. Ice cookies as desired.

And don't screw it up like I did on the one on the top right corner ><

Alternatively, you can skip the royal icing and add a bit more icing sugar and colouring to the glaze to thicken it a bit and use that as icing.


I'm submitting this to Calender Cakes, hosted by Dolly Bakes (this month's host) and Laura Loves Cakes.

And to Aspiring Bakers #26 - Creative Christmas Motif Bakes! hosted by Alan of Travellingfoodies.

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