Cloudy Days Don't Get Me Down
It's still winter here in Southwestern Pennsylvania despite the moderate temperatures we have been having and Punxatawney Phil seeing his shadow. Winter means, among other things, a lot of cloudy days and cloudy days can be a bit depressing after a while. Or can they? I, for one, don't mind cloudy days when the clouds are baked in my oven. Baked clouds?? Yep. Almond Clouds.
Almond Clouds are hands down the most popular cookie that I make. When I bake a batch of almond clouds, there are NEVER any leftovers at the end of the day. I found the recipe about 5 years ago on King Arthur Flour's web site and knew instantly that I had to make them because I am an almond lover. Anything almond flavored and I am there. But these cookies are not just almond flavored. With almond paste, almond extract and almond oil, they are ALMOND. And with only 6 (yes, 6!) ingredients, they mix together in a hurry. Ready to give them a try? Let's go.
First things first. The base ingredient for these cookies is almond paste. But, in my opinion, there is only one brand of almond paste that will do ... Love n' Bake Almond Paste. Sold by King Arthur Flour, and also available on Amazon, Love n' Bake Almond Paste comes in 10 ounce cans, unlike other brands which come in 7 ounce tubes. Since you need 10 ounces of almond paste for a single batch of cookies, that alone is a good reason to use the Love n' Bake brand. But the best reason is that the Love n' Bake brand is the only almond paste which yields the chewy, smooth texture you are looking for in this cookie. I have tried other brands of almond paste and the finished product just isn't the same and isn't as good as it is when you use the Love n' Bake brand.
The full recipe for this cookie is available on KAF's web site. You will need 10 ounces of almond paste, 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, two large egg whites, 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract, 1/8 teaspoon of almond oil (which is different from extract) and confectioner's sugar to dust on top before baking. That's 6 ingredients. Now, if you want to take these clouds over the top, you can add 1 cup of chocolate chips to the dough. I use bittersweet chips but you can use whatever you prefer or have on hand. I think every cloud should have a chocolate lining, don't you?
Beat the almond paste, sugar and salt together until they are evenly crumbly. The almond paste is pretty stiff so you should use a stand mixer for this cookie. While the mixer is running, add in the egg whites which you have lightly beaten. This will create a more cohesive and sticky dough.
After the egg whites are thoroughly mixed in, scrape down the sides of the bowl then add in the almond extract and almond oil. Finally stir in the chocolate chips, if you are using them.
Scoop a tablespoon of dough and set it on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Once the sheet is full, dust the cookies with 10x sugar. Using your index and middle fingers and your thumb together, make three indentations in each cookie.
Bake the cookies in a preheated 325 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges of the cookies just begin to brown. Cool the cookies right on the cookie sheet.
That's it. The whole recipe. Start to finish, it takes about an hour and you'll get about two dozen cookies, if you add in the chocolate chips. These are the perfect almond cookie, chewy, very almond-y. You will also notice that there is no flour in these cookies so if you are looking for a gluten free cookie, here you go!
I hope you give these cookies a try. If you do, let me know what you think of them!