The last time my mom came to visit she gave me two 8-ounce bottles of almond extract, three large tins of tea, and two bottles of my favorite chili sauce (which is not Sriracha, by the way). Her annual visits from Cleveland always involve food gifts, which I happily look forward to. She once even hauled a Costco-sized bag of pine nuts to me, just because she knew I liked to make pesto. She is so generous and thoughtful in that way.
While I know that I will go through her gifts of tea and chili sauce quickly, I’m pretty sure that I now have a lifetime supply of almond extract. She loves baking with almond extract and knows that I do too, so in her mind she was probably thinking, “Why not stock Connie up?”
I admittedly haven’t even opened her bottles of extract yet because I’m still finishing up a bottle of my own, but I know I will get to them eventually. This recipe for Chinese almond cookies alone takes 1 tablespoon of almond extract, which (not surprisingly) is my mother’s recipe. I’m pretty sure she quadrupled whatever the original amount was because she is the type of person who would want an “almond cookie” to taste like almonds and not just hint of them. I would know because I’m that type of person too.
Between the almond extract, almond meal, and almond slices in this recipe, there is plenty of flavor in these cookies. They are also delicate in texture and not too sweet. My mom is the queen of “not too sweet” and this is just another one of her recipes that goes to show that you don’t need a ton of sugar to make something delicious. You just need a ton of almond extract.
Chinese Almond Cookies
Adapted from my mom Helena
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/3 cups almond meal, lightly packed
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch of fine grain sea salt
2 large eggs, divided
1 tablespoon almond extract
Sliced almonds for decoration
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, and baking soda. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the almond meal, butter, and salt. Mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add one egg and the almond extract and mix on low speed until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add the reserved flour-sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Form the dough into a disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat the remaining egg in a bowl and set aside. Divide the chilled disc of dough into quarters and then divide each quarter into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball about an inch wide and place on the prepared baking sheets. Plan on fitting a dozen cookies on each backing sheet and baking two sheets at a time. Press each dough ball down slightly with the palm of your hand, until the cookie is coin shaped and about 1/8 to 1/4 inch in thickness. Brush the cookies with the reserved egg wash and arrange two almond slices in the center of each cookie, pressing them lightly into place. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the cookies are lightly golden on top. Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 4 dozen cookies.