Tag Archives: almonds

Almond Biscotti

One of the newest cookbooks to our collection came during this year’s annual Christmas cookbook haul.  It is called Chewy, Gooey, Crispy Crunchy, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich and I am slowly making my way through it.

Since we are both big fans of the biscotti, I decided to tackle crunchy first.  As you may have heard, M is crazy for the Cardamom Biscotti and requests it often.  I assured him that these would be just as good (they actually aren’t) and that it would allow me to try something new.

Biscotti are great in that they provide a terrific bit of sweet to the end of a meal without the addition of any fat.

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Basler Brunsli – Chocolate-Almond Spice Cookies

One of our friends is gluten-free.  This presents somewhat of a challenge to me as a baker since I am just fine with gluten and rarely give it a second thought.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and is off-limits for those with wheat allergy or celiac disease. It is also the magical ingredient that provides cohesiveness to dough and is easily taken for granted by me, the non-gluten-free baker.

Our gluten-free girl recently came to dinner and I decided to finally tackle this type of baking.  I had recently read an article in Saveur on favorite holiday cookies from around the world. Switzerland’s entry was for Basler Brunsli, also known as a chocolate-almond spice cookie.  No flour in this recipe – a cookie everyone can enjoy.

It certainly sounded promising– almonds, sugar, cloves, cinnamon and chocolate. Chewy texture and the “unmistakable flavor of old-fashioned Christmas cheer.” Well, alright then.

However, I cannot lie. This was one frustrating cookie and I almost scrapped it in favor of something, anything, that was not baked.

The dough is very tricky and needed, I don’t know, some flour to help hold things together. Determined not go give up, I found that working in small batches and keeping the excess dough in the freezer was the key to success.

Overall, the Basler Brunsli is actually quite nice and resembles a chewy chocolatey spicy brownie. A nice ending to a gluten-free dinner for a guest that I hope returns on many occasions in the near future. Here is the recipe…

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Spiced Cocktail Nuts

We had some out-of-town friends over recently for a pre-dinner cocktail.  We wanted to have an accompanying light snack before our lovely meal out at Fatty Crab, one of our not-so-new favorites.  Cheese, as much as we love it, was out of the question.  So, we settled on something we have made time and time again.  Sometimes tried and true is the way to go.

Spiced Cocktail Nuts

Although the recipe I have included has some pretty exact measurements, feel free, as I do, to make it your own.  I always increase the cashews and almonds in favor of a reduction in peanuts, for example.  And, I find that a 2 inch sprig of rosemary and three sprigs of thyme is hardly enough.

The resulting spicy mixed nuts have many notable qualities.  They are easy to prepare, can be made a week in advance and have an unusual herby spicy flavor that is unforgettable and perfect with an early spring beverage.

Here is the recipe…

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Almond Spice Wafers

M sure does like his cookies so I’m always happily on the lookout for something new and different to try.  There are several tried-and-trues that, although easy to make and proven successes, have lost their luster for me, the baker.  M’s cookie texture taste tends to veer more toward the thick, chewy and chunky so I set out to make the complete opposite, something thin, light and crispy.

These Almond Spice Wafers are a variation on Moravian Spice Cookies, which are traditionally made with molasses, rolled, and have the reputation of being the world’s thinnest cookie.  The Moravian Spice Cookie originated from the Moravian Church community during Colonial times in Old Salem, North Carolina, are similar to the German debauchee and have additional roots in Austria.  There are recipes that date back as far as the 1700s.  Quite the lineage!

My recipe originated from a very different and more contemporary source… Martha Stewart.

Almond Spice Dough

The main difference is that these Almond Spice Wafers are made with brown sugar instead of molasses and instead of being rolled thin, the dough is pressed into a mini loaf pan, frozen (I allowed mine to freeze overnight) and sliced thin before the cookies are baked.  A sharp knife and a steady hand are key to completing the task of slicing the cookies as thin as possible.

The finished product was indeed thin but a far cry from being the thinnest cookie in the world.  I leave that to the Moravians.

Almond Spice Wafers

Here is the recipe in case you are in the mood for something a little thin, light and crispy.

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