One of the ingredients in Todd Wilbur's recipe is lard. From experience, I knew the Armour brand lard just wouldn't do. (In the past, when I used Armour lard in sweet pastries, it seemed to produce weird off flavors.) After asking every one of my local supermarkets and boutique grocers for high quality leaf lard, I realized that I was not going to be able to find it. So, I tried the recipe with butter and with Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening (which is made with mechanically pressed organic palm fruit oil that hasn't been additionally processed in any way). Both recipes were delicious - as expected, the shortening almond cookies had a lighter, crispier texture, but not quite as much fullness of flavor. Many tasters did comment that the shortening made almond cookies had a stronger almond flavor and may have tasted a little sweeter. In the end, the recipe I recommend is has a mix of both butter and shortening. If you do choose to use shortening, I recommend avoiding any that contains partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
For the all butter recipe, I assembled all the ingredients: 3 cups (375 g) all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup (60 g) almonds), 1 cup (200 g) sugar, 1 large egg, 12 ounces butter, 1 ounce water, 1 teaspoon almond extract, and 24 almonds.
I used a blender to grind the 60 g almonds into a fine powder. Because the almonds had a tendency to stick to the sides of the blender carafe, I had to use a spatula to scrape down the sides a few times to get an even grind.
This is what the almonds looked like after the grind.
I whisked the flour, salt, baking soda, and freshly ground almond powder together.
Then I used a stand mixer to cream the butter (shortening or butter/shortening combination) with the sugar, egg, almond extract, and water. If the butter isn't fully softened, the sides of the mixing bowl will need to be scraped down once or twice before the mixture will be smooth and without lumps.
I then took another large egg and beat it lightly. Using a pastry brush, I brushed egg onto the surface of each dough ball.
After baking for twenty minutes in a 350°F (175°C) oven, I cooled them on a wire rack.}?>
Chinese Almond Cookies (makes 24 cookies)
|Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)|
|3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour||whisk||mix||form into 1-in. (2.5 cm) balls||press almond onto each ball||refrigerate 15 minutes||brush||bake 350°F (175°C) 20 min.||cool on wire rack|
|1 tsp. (4.6 g) baking soda|
|1/2 (3 g) tsp. salt|
|1/2 cup (60 g) almonds||grind to powder|
|6 oz. (170 g) butter||cream|
|6 oz. (170 g) palm oil shortening|
|1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar|
|1 tsp. (5 mL) almond extract|
|1 large (50 g) egg|
|1 ounce (30 mL) water|
|1 large egg||beat lightly|