Almond Crescent Cookies (Gluten Free)
Intro by Didem Mert
MAN OH MAN. Lydia is always cookin'/bakin' up delish treats, but she really nailed it with this one. Today I was itching to bake some cookies. Well, let me tell you what, these hit the spot! They're super easy to make and the recipe uses minimal ingredients, which is great on a tight budget. Fair warning, you may just wanna keep eating the cookie dough and you'll never actually get to eat the scrumptious baked cookie! Enjoy!
Almond Crescents have always been a bit of an unwritten holiday tradition in my family. All of my Christmas memories include at least one blue box of store bought almond crescent cookies - heavily dusted in powdered sugar, sweetly crumbly in all their almondy goodness. My Gramma (Hi Grams!) instilled a love of baking cookies very early on that has followed me into my Gluten Free Lifestyle. One of her favorite cookies has always been Pecan Sandies - a shortbread style cookie very similar to Almond Crescents.
Moving into my new life as a person with a severe Gluten Allergy, and Soy, Peanut, Cow's Milk... well you get the idea. The holidays seemed a little lackluster. They were missing that sparkle of memories since I was no longer able to just BUY a box of cookies, or whip up a batch of Gramma's famous ____ (fill in the blank... ALL of her cookies are great!). Cookies were one area where I wasn't going to give ground to my allergy. So in true to myself fashion, I've overcome this part of my allergy as well. I think they're pretty great but then I'm deprived right? I don't remember what GOOD cookies taste like. What REAL cookies taste like. Gluten Free is just sugared cardboard right? Well, I shared these cookies recently with my non-gluten free coworkers and after a few declarations of love and one "You're a Cookie Goddess" mumbled around a mouthful of cookie, I think I have a pretty good idea that even your non-gluten free family members will dig these cookies this Holiday Season.
My kitchen is once again filled with the warmth only freshly baked cookies can bring AND my kitchen sink and counters are full of GORGEOUS Didem Mert dishes (also I have a very handsome dishwasher who will work for cookies... simply blessed).
Didem's pieces are tactile. They BEG to be held and used. I love the inspiration behind her pieces as well, and the piece I've chosen to showcase as my main squeeze cookie plate in this recipe deeply reflect this. While chatting over a glass of wine she mentioned that a lot of her ideas come from wood working, the smoothness and rawness you can achieve with a freshly crafted piece of wood (both of us have a paternally passed down love for the craft and some experience as a result). I love the edge on the plate, the way the unglazed red clay is both finished and raw. Like a piece of freshly lathed, unstained wood. The blue glaze in the middle is a bright pop of color, like a small, polished section. Another thing I enjoy about Didem's work is her contrasting color scheme, bold with a refined softness. The colors themselves never really muted or too soft, but when combined with the smooth texture she employs in her clay work they become natural, working companions that add to the overall piece rather than bringing all attention to themselves.
Almond Crescent Gluten Free Recipe
1 Cup Salted Sweet Cream Butter - Softened
1/2 Cup White Sugar
1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar (for dusting)
1 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/4 tsp Almond Extract
1/2 tsp Cinnamon Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Cups Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Almond Meal (the more fine the better)
The key to shortbread style cookies is in the butter. The lyrics "Whip it... whip it good." always run around my head as I make these cookies. Whipping as much air as possible into the butter creates the majority of the texture on these cookies. This is why softening the butter beforehand is important. As is scraping the sides of the mixer several times in between humming sessions of "whip it, whip it good." I usually scrape my mixing bowl 2-3 times and know it's done when the butter forms stiff, lofty peaks. It should look like this:
Add sugar, vanilla and almond extract - mix well. Add butter and keep mixing. The butter/sugar mix is well integrated when it forms thicker folds rather than peaks. If you test it the mix should be rather light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl mix together Salt, Cinnamon, Gluten Free Flour, and Almond Meal. Mix well with fork and fold into the butter/sugar mix. I like to fold it in manually and let is rest for a couple minutes before letting the mixer do the rest. Gluten Free Flour is thirsty but takes a beat to absorb. The dough is ready when it becomes firm and starts to pull away from the sides of the mixer. When it's mixed you should be able to roll it into a ball that looks like this:
It will hold shape well but still be soft. You'll notice the Almond Meal makes the dough a little crumbly, that's ok, the butter will help hold it all together. Cover with plastic and chill dough for 30 minutes.
During the 30 minutes I preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, pull out my stone bake ware, and prep the brown paper bags I'll be using for cooling the cookies. I prefer paper bags over parchment paper because it absorbs a bit of the grease and the moisture from the fresh-from-the-oven-cookie, helping it to set well and without marks on the underside. To do this I cut the bags into sections and use the inside of the bag as my cookie side.
After 30 minutes pull chilled dough from fridge and start forming into 1" balls. The dough will be crumbly as shown
but when warmed up slightly in your hand will hold together.
Roll into a log
and then shape into a crescent.
Bake for 13 minutes, pull from oven, let rest for 2 minutes on stone. Using a thin spatula (I use a metal so the heat from the stone doesn't melt it) gently lift cookies from stone and place onto paper. Let cool for 10 minutes before dusting with powdered sugar - otherwise the sugar will glom onto the cookies and melt slightly, holding in moisture which could collapse the delicate shortbread structure of the cookie.
Repeat until dough is used up. Plate cookies and enjoy!
If traveling with cookies, make sure you allow them to cool COMPLETELY before transferring to container. Any uncooled moisture in the cookie will steam up a tupperware container and collapse the cookie. I like to use paper bags to gift my cookies, or paper take-out boxes I find at the craft store - they're cute and allow the cookie to continue to cool if I have to make them right before I gift them.
As always, if you have any questions about the cookies or plates, let us know!
Happy Holiday Munching!
xo - Lydia