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29 October 2006

almond butter cookies + choocolate chips = good

almond butter cookie, originally uploaded by shaunaforce.

There's an old hostessing adage that says when you are having people over for a party, you should only serve them tried and true favorites. In other words, never conduct food experiments on your guests.

Well, we don't live by that rule in this house.

This afternoon, the Chef and I had a party. A handful of friends came in and out the door, toting cheese and onion dishes, wines from the Columbia Valley, white bean dip, and clams made up in a spicy red pepper liquid. Brandon came up the stairs with more presents from Goodwill in his hands, including six of these fabulous wine glasses without stems, which the Chef and I have been coveting for months, but worried they were too expensive. Brandon found them for 39 cents each at the thrift store for us. Oh, that Brandon. No wonder Molly is marrying him.

I love throwing parties. Clean the house (even up to the last moment), simmer a soup, toss a salad, and put on music — voila! It's party time. Quinn and Alison, Traca, Brandon, Lisa and Mane, Jeff and Daniel — these people more than fill a room. We marveled at the weirdness of the weather ("Baby, it's hailing outside! It looks like snow!"), discussed politics, and traded suggestions of restaurants that captivate us. Mostly, we gathered in the living room and laughed until the light grew dim.

The Chef put together a soup we have been testing for the book: curried carrot with cranberry chutney. Believe me, it will be worth the wait for that recipe. I made a wild green salad with pomegranate seeds and a fig balsamic/lemon olive oil dressing. That went fast. And halfway through the party, I made these cookies.

After I posted the peanut butter cookie recipe a few weeks ago, I found a barrage of comments on the website from readers eager to try more kinds. Someone suggested almond butter. Another suggested jam on the top. They simmered in my mind until I tried it today.

There was silence in the room as everyone ate these. Then, oh yes, we said. Oh yes.


Where the flourless peanut butter cookies taste silky soft, these have the density of shortbread. There is something marvelously mellow about them, the almonds not asserting themselves too much in the mouth. Simple as laughing with friends, they taste more difficult than they are to make. Chewy, slightly nutty, a small sweetness, with a few crumbles left over on the tongue -- these are well worth making.

Before I put the first batch in the oven, I told Brandon I was going to top them with my favorite marmalade (more on this tomorrow). He agreed, but he wanted to try chocolate instead. Inspired, he ran across the street for chocolate chips. We dropped them in little clusters on the indentations of the cookies, then baked them for one more moment. A little like chocolate ganache, as Traca suggested. A lot like goodness we could all endorse heartily. It's worth making this new recipe for guests.

one cup of almond butter
one cup of white sugar
one egg
two teaspoons of baking powder

Cream the almond butter and sugar together by mixing them well, until they have become one coherent mixture. Add the egg and stir. Add the baking powder and stir. The dough should be one lovely almond ball, all the individual ingredients transformed into something else.

Roll a piece of dough half the size of your palm into a solid ball. Dunk it in sugar and roll it around until it is covered and shimmering. Fill a baking sheet — preferably covered with a silpat, or parchment paper will do — with the balls of dough. Press them down with a fork for that traditional tine pattern. Place them in a 350° oven, which you have been heating for at least fifteen minutes.

Bake for nine minutes. Take the baking sheet out of the oven, press down on each soft cookie with the back of a spoon, and watch a little indentation form. Take a few chocolate chips and place them in that divet. When you have accomplished this with all the cookies on the baking sheet, put the sheet back in the oven for one minute. (Or, until the chocolate chips have started to melt a bit at the edges, quivery, almost liquid.)

With a butter knife, spread the melted chocolate chips across the indentation in the cookie. Lift up. (Good luck not licking the knife.) Carefully, move the cookies to a cooling rack. They will be a bit fragile at this point. Let the cookies cool for ten minutes. Then, you may serve them to your guests.

Makes a dozen cookies (or more, if you can stand to make them smaller).


At 5:41 AM, Anonymous kelly said...

mmmm, almond butter is going to be the splurge for grocery shopping this week. and i'm thinking and gooey drizzle of nutella instead. . . (time to give into that craving)

btw, i'm probably one of the few lurkers who did not find you via foodnetwork, but was highly amused when i first spotted the ad and made the connection. thanks for confirming to me i can remain a foodie and be gluten-free. i had a few days of panic when i had my diagnosis that i would have to choose to be sick. ;)

At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like a simple variation on your flourless Peanut Butter cookies of recent. And, the photo sure makes them look tasty.

If you want to try a version with some flours in them, I have found that Light Buckwheat goes well with nut-butter type cookies (makes a nice complementary flavor scheme). I use that along with some Brown Rice flour and a bit of Tapioca starch to get a nice texture and flavor, and the result is a cookie with a bit more body than a flourless variety. I also like a bit of Molasses in mine. Regardless, that picture makes we want to bake a batch of cookies today.

At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Jes said...

I found that I adored your peanut butter cookies with my own addition of cocoa nibs! (Another bonus: flavored peanut butter. Out here in Colorado we have Justin's Peanut butter in lovely flavors like Pumpkin Pie, Cinnamon, and Honey.)

At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know Alison and I were sad sad sad to leave early....this does not help.


At 12:06 PM, Blogger UnGourmetGal said...

I love that there are only four ingredients. I won't have an excuse to not make cookies late at night anymore. But is that good for my thighs? Who cares!

At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Leon said...

This is murder. Your food photos are taunting me. You are a very very cruel woman.
I found your website a few days when I was looking for gf baking recipes, specifically bread.
I've been checking out the new posts each time but am suffering badly as I am currently working on a boat off the Norwegian coast. I get home tomorrow, after six weeks at sea, and can't wait to start trying out some of the recipes you have.
Your blog is fantastic - keep it up!
(an Aussie located in the UK)

At 9:39 PM, Blogger UnGourmetGal said...

Question: In the original recipe which used peanut butter, can I use natural peanut butter?

At 10:23 PM, Blogger Princess LadyBug said...

Do you think these could be made using Splenda? I'm a diabetic and in trying to cut down on carbs I've found that several gluten-free recipes work really well. And basically your cookies look too good to NOT make them. :P

At 1:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These look yummy, definitely a must to try out on my Mum-in-law, only problem is I've never heard of almond butter. I wonder whether you can get it here in Dublin or if I can make it? Can you help me?

At 9:57 AM, Blogger mira said...

These sound fabulous, somehow even better than the pb ones. I'm going to try making them with sucanat since we try to avoid white sugar here. Thanks for sharing.

At 6:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cookies look delicious!

BTW, your blog was mentioned in the Express, which is published by the Washington Post, on Oct. 31. Here is the link:

At 7:53 PM, Blogger Shauna said...

Kelly, oh yes. Almond butter is worth the splurge. I'm glad to hear you came to the blog and then saw the Food Network spot. The whole thing still amazes me! Good work on your blog, by the way.

Mike, yes, as I said in the post, these really are just the peanut butter cookies with almond butter instead. I love to take the suggestions of my readers and see what I can do with them. I agree with you -- with different gluten-free flours, this would be a different cookie. There are so many possibilities!

Jes, cocoa nibs? YUM! I have to say, however, that the thought of pumpkin pie peanut butter does give me pause. Are you sure it's good?

Quinn, this will teach you. Next time, stay until the end! So wonderful to have you both here. I promise to make more cookies for you next time I see you.

Ungourmetgal, I like your attitude, my dear. When you need cookies -- and these are so easy to make -- why not splurge once in awhile? Life is strange enough without always worrying about one's thighs.

Leon, I am so sorry. I never intended to be cruel. However, if I were trapped at sea for six weeks, with no sign of land, I would feel antipathy toward these photographs as well. By now, you must be home and eating well. Congratulations!

Ungourmetgal, Oh dear, I should have addressed this above. What do you mean by natural peanut butter? Do you mean the peanuts and nothing but oil and salt? If so, then yes. That's all I ever use. The other kinds are too sugary for me!

Princess Ladybug, give it a try! I've never really cooked with Splenda, but I would hope you could adapt these for yourself. I don't see why not. I want you to experience them!

Beccy, thank you so much for stopping by! I think I can help you. Almond butter is simply almonds ground down into a butter. (The same as peanut butter.) If you have a food processor, you can just load a bunch of almonds in there, set it spinning, then add oil as needed to let it keep spinning. Give it two minutes and you have almond butter!

Mira, I'm happy you liked the idea. I actually think they are better than the peanut butter cookies. More delicate and complex. let me know how the sucanat works.

Anonymous, Thank you for the heads up. I had no idea!

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Alice Q said...

Mmmm... those sound very very good, and your party sounds like fun! Loved your story about the engagement too. Congratulations on your happiness - the Chef sounds like a good man.

At 5:17 PM, Blogger Shauna said...

Alice q,

Oh, the Chef is a good man. I've never met one like him. So kind.
Thanks for coming by.

At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Jes said...

Yes! No need for pause Shuana, the pumpkin pie peanut butter is yummy.

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

I can't believe you found those glasses for 39 cents each. Lucky you. I've been pricing them to order for a friend in the US for Christmas.

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Kiona said...

Has anybody made these cookies vegan? What did you use in place of the egg in this recipe? Thanks.


At 10:03 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

I just finished making two batches of these. They're good, but the almond flavor is not quite what I expected. I'd made some cookies earlier in the holiday season using ground-up almonds, and they tasted different. I realized that the almond butter is made with roasted almonds. It would be interesting to see how the flavor changes if you make your own almond butter using non-roasted almonds. Unfortunately my cookie-baking budget it shot... guess I'll have to come back to it sometime in the future.

BTW, I really appreciate this recipe and the one for peanut butter cookies. I'm not gluten-free, but I have a couple of friends who are, and I like that I can make these cookies for them without ending up with a bunch of leftover unusual flours that will take me years to use up :-)

At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just made these cookies with a few adjustments and they came out perfect.
I added 1 tbs of tapioca flour and 1 tbs of coconut and I used almond and hazlenut butter.

they are so excellent!

At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Laura said...

ok just for tge record - don't replace the sugar with honey b/c doesn't work. no really... it doesn't. what a waste of a good jar of almond butter haha

I try to stay away from refined sugar and usually I have success, but it just made a huge sticky wasteful mess instead. oh well.

YOURS sound divine!

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Hanna said...

Wow. Just made 1/2 batch with the addition of a little vanilla and molasses and a tiny sprinkle of salt. My almond butter was a little runny, so I stirred in some almond meal to stiffen the dough. Worked very well.
Thanks so much for reminding me of that old flourless pb cookie ratio; I had forgotten how lovely it could be.

At 11:25 PM, Blogger Single Girl Meets Kitchen said...

I made three different toppings for these. The first with semi-sweet choc chips. The second with milk chocolate (my definite fav). The third with toasted pecans in butter and brown sugar (on top of the well of chocolate). Oh me. Oh my. Soooo good.

This was the simplest cookie recipe I've seen. So had to try it out. I just added a dash of vanilla bourbon extract and a pinch of salt. I think I may add coconut to it next time. And perhaps a dollop of peanut butter instead of chocolate in the well. Thanks for sharing!


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