A loooooong time ago....when I was a young wife and mother (early 90's?), I use to subscribe to a series of "Leisure Arts Publication" books. The books arrived monthly and had a different theme each month. Then they came out with a Christmas series and I was all over those babies. I loved looking through the books and "planning" on making something....sometime. The books had, not only recipes....but cute little crafty things as well. Now that I think of it though...I don't remember making a single thing from any of the books. But one can't always rely on my memory...so don't hold me to it.
Last weekend while I was pulling out my boxes of Christmas decorations, I came across a couple of the Christmas books...specifically....The Spirit of Christmas Cookbook....how fun does that sound?! So of course I sat down right away....I mean...I did need a rest after futzing around in the garage, right? I came across the Almond Crisps recipe and saw how easy they seemed...with only 5 ingredients! I can do that!!
I think what really caught my eye though...was thier lacy appearance and the promise of sweet, crisp yumminess. And that's exactly what I got. Very caramelly....delicate and delicious!
This recipe calls for ground, blanched almonds. I had a bag of raw whole almonds in my freezer (I keep all my nuts in the freezer) and I really didn't want to spend the money on already ground blanched ones.....so I did a little research and found out how to do it on my own.
How to blanch almonds: bring some water to a boil (enough to cover the amount of almonds you're going to blanche), remove the pan from the heat, toss in the almonds and let them sit there for a bit....until the water is cool enough to be able to place your hand in it without burning yourself. Then gently squeeze one almond at a time between your thumb and forefinger....causing the almond to simply slip right out of it's own skin. Lay them out to dry on a towel.
Once dry...the almonds are ready to grind.
How to grind almonds: Place 1 cup of almonds at a time into a food processor along with a few tablespoons of sugar and grind away. If you're using a blender, grind 1/2 cup at a time. The sugar is necessary when grinding nuts. It prevents the ground nuts from becoming oily and lumpy which would make it near impossible to add to other dry ingredients. (at least that's what Julia Child says...and I will take her word for it).
If you don't want to go through all of that...then by all means....buy yourself a bag, already done. I'm too much of a cheapskate.
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground blanched almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350'. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease it. You will be baking only 4 crisps at a time. They need lots of room to spread (hey!! I resemble that remark!!). Plus...when it comes time to "roll" them....they'll cool off too much by the time you get to the last one if you're working with more than 4 at a time. (That'll make sense in a minute)
Combine all of the ingredients into a nice big 10" skillet. Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly until the butter has completely melted and the mixture is well combined. It'll kinda resemble a grainy type gravy.
Turn the heat down to very low, to keep your mixture warm (stir occasionally) . Drop mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet....4 cookies...at least 2 inches apart. More if you have room....I think I had 4" in between the little blobs.
The book says to bake for 5 minutes. That was not the case for me....at all. I don't know if my "heaping tablespoonfuls" were more than theirs....but I ended up cooking mine for 8 - 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them. They're done when they're nice and golden brown.
Let them cool for just a second! Gently loosen the cookie with a spatula and turn it over.
As you can see, the bottoms are nice and smooth. Quickly roll each one around the handle of a wooden spoon.
Place on a rack and allow to cool completely.
Here are a few hints and tips. I found that it worked best when I did one cookie at a time....flip, roll....then moved on to next. What this did was allow the other cookies to remain warm on the sheet. Once the cookie cools, it becomes too delicate and crispy to roll. But!!! If a cookie does become too firm to roll just stick it back in the oven for a minute until it softens up, then proceed.
They're fun, delicious and so pretty!
I'm definitely adding this recipe to my yearly Christmas Cookie baking list. Here are my other favorites that have become a tradition in my household:
Ginger Cookies: Soft, chewy, spicy and very addictive. Perfect with a cup of tea. If you want to make Gingerbread Man Cookies....just add an additional 1/4 cup of flour to recipe. I haven't tried it yet so I can't guarantee the results.
Eggnog Kringla: Soft, light and delicately sweet with just a hint of eggnog flavor.
Linzer Sandwich Cookies: These are probably the most festive Christmas Cookie I bake....buttery and nutty and are sure to impress your guests.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays