Friday, June 20, 2014

Almond Delights –Little Bites of Bliss-

 Who doesn't love a good butter cookie?
I know I do but I am also a personal believer in taking a standard recipe and tweaking it to make something a little more fun and delicious.
This time, almond was the name of the game so this recipe is an adaptation of a butter cookie amped up with the savory, sweet flavor of almond!

Here’s what you’ll need…

1 Cup Butter Softened (not melted)
½ Cup Powdered Sugar
¼ Cups Flour                                             
3/4 Cup Cornstarch
1 tbsp Half and Half                                     
1tsp Vanilla Extract
½ tsp Almond Extract
In a bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar until smooth.
Slowly add the flour and cornstarch, mixing well.  Next, add the half & half, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Mix thoroughly.
Cover bowl and allow to chill for thirty minutes. This is a good time to make the almond crème (recipe below).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
Prepare cookie sheet by greasing it or by lining it with parchment paper.
  Using your clean hands, roll dough into little balls about one inch in diameter and place on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Keep checking to make sure they don’t get too brown. We want them to have a nice light golden brown color.
Once they have been removed from the oven, allow to cool completely on the tray.
Almond Crème
¼ Cup Softened Butter                
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Almond Extract                 
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
I usually prepare this mixture while the cookie dough is chilling in the fridge.
 In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, salt, and almond extract. Keep blending for several minutes. Then whip in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing thoroughly between each cup.
 A quick story while you are that is a good reminder to always be prepared in the kitchen! I have a great electric mixer that I love, but during the process of making the crème for these cookies, the whipping attachment met it’s end!
Let’s just say this made an absolute mess in the kitchen. Almond crème flung everywhere  all at once. In fact, I’m pretty sure there is still some on my kitchen ceiling. Luckily, I always try to have a back-up plan so I dug out a (barely used) manual whisk. Let me just say, this is not the most fun thing to use when you’re whipping really thick cream. But at least it worked so I manually finished whipping the mixture together. 
On the upside, this is a great arm workout
Anyway, back to the recipe. Once you’ve whipped the crème ingredients completely (and hopefully not by hand), set the mixture in the fridge to chill.  
 Meanwhile, roll out the cookies and then bake them.
Once the cookies have completely cooled, remove the crème topping from the fridge. It will be very stiff and seem too hard to use as a frosting but never fear because now we can just smash it around for a few minutes with a sturdy fork to make it more pliable. Then once again using clean hands, take a small amount of crème and mold it into the perfect size to top the flat side of the cookies.
 You can use the crème topping on the rounded tops of each of the cookies but I liked the unique look of not having the tops covered by frosting.  
Also, if any of the cookies became a little too brown on the bottom while baking, this technique is a great way to cover up the mistake.  Bonus!  Alternately, you can make little cookie sandwiches if you prefer.   
 Continue to take each cookie and press the crème either on the bottom or the top until all of the cookies have been frosted.
You can really have fun with this recipe and go wild with the flavor and topping combinations.  So get creative and experiment then let us know in the comments if you made any unique changes that  made these little bites of bliss even better!  Enjoy!

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