Recently I spied a recipe for butter cookies printed on the inside of a Land-o-Lakes butter box. It called for just a few simple ingredients, including my beloved butter. It used just one bowl. Excellent. The only problem I could discern was that the recipe didn’t call for almonds, and I am on an almond bender. That issue was easily enough remedied with a little almond extract and almond paste. Oh, and I added an almond glaze. My husband thought these cookies were possibly a little overly-almondy. As if.
My almond excesses were validated when the best cook in the neighborhood requested the recipe. Ha. Vindicated. Almonds reign supreme. Almonds are elegant in every way. They’re great with sugar and with salt, and certainly with butter. They have a subtle perfume, and a silky texture, and a sleek shape. They are the jungle cat of the nut world. And these cookies? They’re the best cookies ever to cross these lips. This is not a claim I make lightly.
These cookies are so soft they’re nearly fluffy. There is no crunch here whatsoever. There’s just the tiniest give as your teeth break the glaze. A smidge of chewiness from the almond paste. Then the cookie just melts in your mouth. (Not in a pasty kind of way, more in a “I-have-been-waiting-for-this-cookie-my-whole-life” kind of way.) So, if perfectly-pillowy, extra-almondy, one-bowl cookies tempt you, read on. I promise I’ll simmer down a little with the hyphens.
The dry ingredients in this recipe are not combined before adding them to rest. No whisking, sifting, or stirring. You just throw them into the bowl, willy-nilly. After a lifetime of mixing dry ingredients in a separate bowl, this struck me as akin to blasphemy. But there it was, printed oh-so-officially on the inside of the butter box.
After tasting these heaven-sent cookies, I blinked hard and pondered how many hours of my life I have spent sifting and whisking and washing that extra bowl. Was it all for NOTHING? Rather than sink into existential despair, I took a glass-half-full approach. I’m starting a list of all the meaningful things I can do with the time I’ll save not combining dry ingredients.
I don’t think the texture of these cookies can possibly be improved upon. Naturally, this makes me wonder what other steps I could be skipping (in cooking and in life) with no negative fall-out. Professional bakers and purists among you should maybe read a better person’s blog.
SOFT ALMOND COOKIES
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
2 tablespoons almond paste (sold in tubes in most bakery aisles)
2 teaspoons almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter, almond paste, and eggs until creamy.
Add remaining ingredients and mix on low until combined.
Scoop by round tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. (I lined mine with parchment paper, but I’m sure that’s not necessary. It just makes the clean-up easier.)
Bake for 10 minutes – they”ll be very soft, but brown on the bottom. Cool for five minutes on the cookie sheet, then move to a rack or a flat surface to cool completely before glazing. (I’ve never owned a cookie rack. I cool them on a cutting board. Pathetic, I know.)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons milk
Place ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a spoon until smooth. If it seems too thick, add more milk. If it’s too thin, add more sugar. The glaze should be smooth and spreadable.