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(Part one of Serial Experiments Cookie.)

So my father's sixtieth birthday is just around the corner. Being the perenially-broke college student that I am, but still wanting to give him something other than the generic "Oh my God, you've managed to live this long? Weren't you supposed to be dead three years ago?" card from Hallmark, I decided to put my cooking skills to good use.
After careful consideration, cakes and pies were most definitely Out of the Question. Mama, Papa, and little Andro only make three; if I were to bake something like that, we'd be eating it for the next two weeks, with perhaps an occasional pause for water and celery every other day. Pastry is a little too tricky, and I've been banned from the kitchen by my mother when it comes to main courses. So it seemed the only things left for me to make were cookies.

I tried to come up with a recipe that was both savory and sweet at the same time; neither of my parents is particularly fond of sugary-type desserts. Given the wide availability and incredibly low (as compared to your average supermarket chain in the States, anyway) prices of frutos secos, (or nuts, if you prefer English), over here, almonds seemed to be the way to go. Unfortunately, I ran into two problems on my way to culinary bliss.
The first, and thankfully, more easy to conquer was the metric system. Google Calculator, along with measuring cups marked in cups and ounces that my mother had brought with her from the US, made being in the land of the Système Internationale a mere inconvenience for an unrepentant imperialist like myself.
The second problem was a little more severe.
Despite being looked for in three different stores by a decidedly-more-cranky-by-the-moment Andro, several key ingredients were nowhere to be found. Apparently, (short of specialty stores that charge about twenty to thirty euros a bottle, anyway) most types of flavor extracts simply don't exist here. No mint extract. No almond extract. In two stores, no vanilla extract. There was also something of a shortage of powdered sugar and baking sheets, but I managed to scrounge those up by searching through the cabinets at home.

Armed with a large bottle of Frangelico and the knowledge that I could always fall back on my specialty-- doom-flavored shortbread cookies-- if my baking endeavor should happen to go pear-shaped, I had at it.

The results were tasty enough to have been declared a sin in several countries pre-Church Reformation.

And so I share them with you, E2.

Frangelico chocolate chunk almond cookies

Warning: There is no way that these things might be considered "healthy," even for very large values of health. That doesn't stop them from being incredibly tasty, however.

What you'll need:

  • two cups of flour. Generic, white, bleached.
  • half a cup of ground almonds.
  • between a quarter of a cup to a half a cup, depending on your nuttiness preference, of chopped almonds. (If you can't find either of these in the baking section of your local supermarket, you can use a food processor to reduce whole almonds.)
  • half a teaspoon of baking soda.
  • a pinch (say, a quarter of a teaspoon) of salt. (I used sea salt. You may want to try something a little less coarse.)
  • about half a stick (sixty-ish grams) of salted butter, softened to room temperature. Please don't use margarine, or I may have to hurt you.
  • two tablespoons of shortening. I used lard. Mm-mm, lard. You can probably get by with Crisco if you're not into pig fat.
  • three quarters of a cup of brown sugar, lightly packed. Dark brown is tastier.
  • a quarter of a cup of regular granulated sugar.
  • one egg.
  • about a teaspoon of almond extract. (I used vanilla extract, as desperate times call for desperate measures. Please use almond extract if you can. Your tastebuds will thank you.)
  • about a shot to a shot and a half of Frangelico. If you'd rather use an almond-flavored liqueur, go ahead.
  • about a quarter of a cup each of both dark and milk chocolate chunks. Forget the Nestle's chocolate chips. Use good chocolate, cut up into half-inch squares. You deserve it.
  • about three hours of spare time.
(In case these aren't sugary-sweet enough for you, there's also optional cream cheese frosting.) For that, you'll need:
  • three ounces (about 90 grams) of cream cheese/queso blanco/Philadelphia/whatever you choose to call it. Please don't use the "light" version. Please.
  • three cups of powdered sugar. (I cheated and used half granulated sugar. My frosting turned out crunchy.)
  • roughly half a shot more of Frangelico.
First, preheat your oven to about 425º F (220ºC).

In a smallish mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and almonds (both crushed and chopped). You should wind up with a dry mix in a pleasant shade of off-white.

In a second, larger, bowl, cream the butter, the shortening, and both types of sugar together until everything is pleasantly squishy. Add in the egg, the booze, and the extract and continue mixing.

Slowly add the almondized flour to the butter/sugar/booze mix.

Your arm may start to hurt. Keep mixing.

Fold in the chocolate. Try not to let it get concentrated at the bottom of the bowl.

Your dough is done.
You might want to think about making that optional cream cheese icing right about now.

Beat the powdered sugar, the left-over Frangelico, and the cream cheese together, probably in the newly-empty smallish mixing bowl. It should reach a nice creamy/oozy viscosity.

Drop teaspoon-sized lumps of cookie dough onto your cookie sheets, which have hopefully been covered in tinfoil for this purpose. These things won't spread out all that much, so you're safe keeping them about an inch, inch and a half apart. Bake for roughly ten minutes. Your kitchen will smell of heavenly booze and chocolate. Please wait at least ten minutes for them to cool before you attempt to eat one. Unless you happen to like burns caused by melted chocolate. In that case, go right ahead.

If you decided to make that optional cream cheese icing, now would be the time to find a brush. (Something that hasn't been used for oil paint, please.) Carefully go over the warm cookies with the icing. Let it harden and the cookies cool before storing them in a handy cookie tin or tupperware dish.

And that's it. This recipe makes about thirty cookies, give or take a few. As a side note-- it may be possible to convert this into either kosher or vegan eating though clever use of ingredient swapping, but I can't vouch for the results. However, this should in no way be attempted by someone with a nut allergy, for obvious reasons. Enjoy, and let me know if you decide to try these.

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