Tue 10 Nov 2009
Peanut butter, your cookie reign has come to an end. Drop whatever you are doing and get a jar of almond butter, lovelies; a cookie revolution has begun.
Aside from the general avoidance annoyance inherent to any food allergy, I don’t feel like I miss out on very many things due to my inability to eat peanuts. True, peanut M&Ms were tough to give up at first (I didn’t figure out I was allergic to peanuts until I was in high school), but I rarely lament my inability to indulge in the world of everyone’s favorite salty legume.
Except that every so often I really miss peanut butter cookies. The rich, salty ombre of the peanut butter brings a toasty mellowness to an otherwise basic cookie dough in a way that I always found quite irresistible. Once, one of my dad’s coworkers gave everyone in their department a tin of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and I thought I might keel over and die with happiness. They were, in a word, awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I find myself thinking about them every so often.
In thinking about those crazy, wonderful cookies the other day, I realized that I have never tried substituting almond butter for peanut butter in cookies. It seems like a reasonable substitution, but I have never seen a recipe that contemplates it. To my knowledge, I’ve never seen an almond butter cookie. After a bit of research to compare the properties of peanut butter and almond butter, I was convinced that I could swap one for the other without much fanfare.
I’m thrilled to share that it worked; after a few trials and tweaks, I think I’ve come up with a really satisfying cookie. In true peanut butter cookie fashion, the dough provides an ample yield, making this a wonderful option for holiday baking and gifting. You can omit the toasted almonds if you wish, but I think they lend something lovely to the final result. You can also swap them out for ¾ of a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips for a chocolate chip cookie that will blow your cookie-loving mind. You will, I’m sorry to say, discover that the dough is perhaps the loveliest, richest, most craveable cookie dough you’ve come across in a long time. I recommend making these when everyone else is out of the house, lest you find yourself in competition for who gets to lick the beaters.
Almond Butter Cookies
Yields 30 to 36 cookies
1 cup whole almonds
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened (see note)
¼ cup shortening
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup almond butter
1 t vanilla
1 ¼ cup AP flour
¼ t salt
½ t baking powder
¾ t baking soda
- Toast the almonds
- Cream the butter, shortening, and sugars
- Blend in the egg, then almond butter, then vanilla
- Mix dry ingredients
- Incorporate dry ingredients
- Grind the almonds and incorporate
Preheat the oven to 375. Scatter the whole almonds on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and toast 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool, but leave the oven on.
Cream the butter, shortening, and sugars in a large bowl until smooth, about a minute by mixer (stand or handheld) on medium-high speed. Add the egg and beat again until fully incorporated. Add the almond butter and vanilla and blend again.
In a medium bowl, toss the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together with a fork. Add this mixture to the dough and mix on low speed until partially incorporated.
Blitz the toasted almonds in a food processor until you have a mixture of small, coarse almond rubble. Add this to the dough and fold in by hand with a wooden spoon. Shape the cookies by rolling small wads of dough between your palms. To reach the stated yield, do not roll cookies larger than 1” in diameter.
Space the cookies at least 2” apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Do not press down on them once you place them; they reach their best shape when they start from a round ball. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.
A few notes:
For the butter – do not soften it in the microwave. Set the butter out on your kitchen counter 30 minutes before you want to begin baking and allow it to come to room temperature naturally. When you soften in the microwave, melty butter often ensues, which will make your cookies flat.
Speaking of flat cookies – it is best to use two cookie sheets here so that you are always placing the next batch of cookies on a reasonably cool sheet. If you put cookie dough on a hot cookie sheet, your cookies will be flat.
Almond butter – I used Maranantha No-Stir Almond Butter and found the texture to be perfect for baking. My fear in working with almond butter was that there would be insurmountable oil issues, but the no-stir variety was smooth, thick, and didn’t introduce any consistency problems to the dough. If you attempt these with another brand or variety of almond butter, please let me know how they turn out.