soft almond sugar cookie cutouts that are very thick and glazed and fun

hello from korea, friends!!!!!!!! the last few days have been totally bonkers as the olympic channel has made every single one of my dreams come true and brought me over to pyeongchang to help cover the olympics. i am freaking out, it is still soaking in, and i have no idea what time it is where you are, but for now i have to dash over to gangnueng to watch nathan chen's short program, so i will tell you more about this later! follow along on instagram!

i really need to quickly tell you about these valentine's day cookies though because they are our new favorite cookies hands down. they are so freaking soft and thick and almondy, and i realize that i should just admit that this is an almond flavored blog already (yes, the annual almond cake is coming soon!!) but i know as soon as i do that i'm going to start hating almond. (haha, never!) but if you do hate almond, rest assured, this is actually about to become an ice skating blog this week.

i like these cookies because you can cut out thick shapes with them and you don't have to worry about refrigerating the dough (you can if you want) so these come together extremely quickly. the trick to getting the best texture is to take them out of the oven when they are just starting to think about turning brown but haven't yet. or maybe they have around the bottom edges but that's it. they will be too soft to handle immediately out of the oven but as they cool they'll firm up just slightly and achieve that perfect softness that's lofthouse-esque but way denser.

the thing i'm still working on is the decorating part. when i pipe freehand glaze lines i feel really clumsy! and i'm trying to figure out how to get the outlines of the glaze to zhoosh into the rest of the glaze better. michelle says to use a toothpick to help blend it. i tried it for two cookies and then got impatient! oh well, the good thing is that clumsy lines and poorly zhooshed glaze still taste really good but if you have ideas for how to make the outlines blend in better, please @ me.


soft almond sugar cookie cutouts

makes about 22 large (3" ish) cookies or 30 smaller (2" ish) ones

ingredients

For the cookies:

3 1/2 c (448g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 1/3 c (150g) almond flour

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1 c (226g) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 c (137g) granulated sugar

2/3 c (80g) powdered sugar

zest from 1/2 of a lemon, optional

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp princess emulsion (or another tsp vanilla)

3/4 tsp almond extract

for the glaze:

2 cups (240g) powdered sugar
2 tb (40g) corn syrup
2-3 tb whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Pinch of kosher salt
Food coloring

Sprinkles!
 

clues

To make the cookies, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and the sugars until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the lemon zest if using and mix to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each, and then add the extracts.


Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until blended. At this point you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour, or up to two days, or you can get going on rolling out your dough and cutting out your cookies immediately. 

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºf. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a silicone mat and set aside. Working with half of the dough at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2” thick. Cut out your shapes and then transfer to a baking sheet, 1" apart. Re-roll scraps and cut out more shapes. Bake until they’re just thinking about starting to turn brown, begin checking larger cookies for doneness at 12 minutes, and smaller cookies at 10 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, corn syrup, 2 tablespoons milk, vanilla, almond extract, salt, and a few drops of food coloring until smooth. It should be very thick but just thin enough that when you lift up your spoon it falls off in smooth ribbons. If it’s too thick, add a couple more drops of milk, and if it’s too thin, add a few more spoonfuls of powdered sugar. Spoon a couple of spoonfuls into a piping bag and snip off 1/4" tip. Pipe around the borders of your cookies to make an outline. Thin the remaining glaze out with another teaspoon or so of milk, until it's easily spreadable. Fill in the outlines with the thinner glaze and top with sprinkles immediately before the glaze dries.

Let dry and enjoy!! 

These will keep at room temperature for a good few days, but you can also freeze them once the glaze is dry and they'll stay fresher longer!
 


-yeh!


new year's cookie cereal!

Hi! It's Molly of last week here, Molly of the present is on holiday break and not allowed to open up her computer until January 3. (There is a piece of washi tape holding it shut.) Present molly is definitely opening instagram every five seconds though. And, like, sitting on her couch eating cheese and butter sandwiches, getting them all in before the clock strikes 2018 when suddenly there is a little guilt in the air about eating bread, but shut me up, that’s all I’m saying about New Year’s diets. 

Molly of the present might be a little bit tan from a two day skip down to the great American Southwest, very full on pizza from a pizza party at Melissa’s (!!!! Omg past Molly is so excited), and awaiting results from her 23 and me test since she got one for herself and one for Eggboy to put under the Chrismukkah bush. Just for funsies! I know I’m half Chinese and part Hungarian but one time at Thanksgiving someone from my mom’s side said something about having Polish ancestors and maybe even some Spanish ones (!!). I can’t wait to find out. 

Also, we celebrated our third anniversary yesterday!! Hooray!!!!!! I think we went to IKEA. That’s the plan at least. And now that I think about it, I think that my favorite hidden talent of ours as a couple is confidently maintaining a perfect track record of never fighting in an IKEA. That’s pretty good, right??? It’s maybe either a testament to our level-headed reasoning skills or to the fact that as long as I get Swedish meatballs in my belly the world could end but I’d still be smiling. Either way, I am extra excited to spend the day looking at Hemneses and Vördas with my cool husband. 

Enough being mushy now! Let’s get crispy.

As you may remember, I spent a large portion of my February stamping out macroscopic heart shaped cookies to make valentine’s day cookie cereal:

This was a long repetitive process but extraordinarily satisfying. So I did it again only this time with a festive holiday/New Year’s day approach! The only real differences from the valentine’s day version are that the cookies have ground almonds instead of hazelnuts (as well as sprinkles to be like new year’s confetti), and the meringues are swirly and colorful. It’s all very almond-forward because that’s the flavor of the holidays and if you make it now it will definitely still be good by the time that New Year’s morning rolls around and you simply cannot be bothered to make a brunch or wait for a table at the Walker Brothers, but you still want something celebratory. 

I used a large round piping tip to stamp out my circles. I also added dried cranberries and cherries and pecans and marcona almonds but feel free to change those up based on what you have on hand. The only thing you really need to pay attention to is making sure the cookies and meringues are really good and dry before taking them out of the oven, that will help this cereal keep for a while and not get smelly when you bag it up and gift it to the person you forgot to give a gift to. 

Omg, see you in 2018!!!!!


almond cookie cereal

makes about 18 servings

ingredients

1 batch mini almond cookies, recipe below

1 batch mini meringues, recipe below

1 c chocolate chips

1 c toasted coconut flakes

1 c toasted almonds, coarsely chopped (I also threw in some pecans!)

1 c dried cherries or cranberries

milk, for serving

clues

gently combine all of the ingredients. 

serve in a bowl with milk!

keep in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. cereal should keep for a couple of weeks.


mini almond cookies

ingredients

1/2 c almond meal

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 c unsalted butter, softened

3/4 c sugar

3/4 tsp vanilla

1 large egg

sprinkles

clues

preheat the oven to 350ºf. line two baking sheets with parchment.

in a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, flour, and salt.

using an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until it is pale and fluffy. add the vanilla and egg and beat well to combine. with the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, beating until combined.

turn the cookie dough out onto a lightly-floured surface. using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick, sprinkle the top with sprinkles, and then continue rolling until it is 1/4" thick. use a cookie cutter or large round piping tip to cut out tiny circles. place the circles on the baking sheets (they can be pretty close together), and bake until they're lightly browned on the bottom, about 10 minutes. re-roll scraps and repeat.

once all of the cookies are baked, reduce the oven to 250ºf and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes to really crisp them up. let cool on the pans.


ingredients

120 grams (or about 1/2 c + 3 tb) sugar

2 large eggs whites

1/4 tsp almond extract

2-4 colors of gel food coloring

clues

preheat oven to 400ºf. distribute the sugar in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes, until the edges are starting to brown. while sugar is baking, crack your egg whites into a stand mixer. 

once the sugar has been in the oven for a few minutes, begin beating the egg whites in a stand mixer on high until they're foamy. reduce the mixer and gradually sprinkle in the warm sugar. once all of it has been added, add the almond extract. beat on high for a few minutes, until the meringue is stiff, glossy, and cold.

reduce the oven to 225ºf.

prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment. fit a pastry bag fitted with a 1/8" or 1/4" round tip and use a paint brush to paint vertical lines of the food coloring inside of the pastry bag. (for a video tutorial, see my IG story highlights!) Fill the bag with your egg white mixture, pipe tiny dollops onto the parchment, and bake for about 20 minutes, until the mini meringues are no longer shiny and they're crispy all the way through. let cool on the pans.


-yeh!

valentine's day almond cake

well. you win some, you lose some, and sometimes you get possessed by an imaginary six-year-old while you’re decorating your annual valentine’s day cakes and they turn out looking like something that even a mask of seven vsco filters couldn't salvage. it's like valentine’s day of 2012 all over again. 

i’m cursed, i’m definitely cursed. not only do these look like [that] but they’re also kind of dry?! which is likely because i over whipped the egg whites, baked them for too long, and/or made miniature versions. and then after i baked these i went on to burn a loaf of challah in the oven. and then beyoncé didn't win album of the year. and then i lost my mandoline blades. someone please send help.

it all started when the dryness of these poor cakes set an ominous tone for the rest of the weekend. i baked them on saturday and they had such a hard time wiggling out of the muffin pans, so the outsides looked ugly because of it. i took one bite and they tasted like an icky sponge, not the moist almondy airy-yet-dense amazing perfect cake that i look forward to every year. i thought i could maybe save them with enough whipped cream, but still all of my inspiration was sucked out of me and all night that night i tossed and turned because i didn’t have a clear plan for how i would decorate them. i thought about making princess cakes, or mini versions of valentine’s cakes from past years, or committing to only using all-natural decorations (since i’ve been on a freeze dried berry kick, and because a whole box of quin candy arrived last week with the most delicious heart lollies and gumdrops), but i couldn’t decide and i tossed and turned until finally i was like,

molly, you’re being a stupid head for stressing out this much about cake decorations. it's supposed to be fun. 

so i just dove in on sunday morning with all of the pink things and heart things i had lying around, as well as the leftover frosting from saturday’s cookie decorating event at kittsona, and i had a lot of fun. and then when i took a step back to emerge for air, i was like, lol oh no these look like shit. oops? 

what do we learn from this:

-don’t make this cake miniature. it's clearly best when the soft innards are maximized. maybe some cakes that are slightly more prone to dryness are just not meant to be miniature. but if you must: use a jumbo muffin tin with parchment liners and be careful not to over bake them. i’m tempted to say add a little more sugar and less flour, too. but i’m too haunted by this experience to test it again, so for now i’m sticking with a regular 9" or 10" cake.

-don't over whip your egg whites.

-don't let this cake sit out uncovered for very long. if you need to bake it in advance, wrap it in plastic wrap as soon as it's cool and make sure it's air tight. freeze it if you need to bake it more than a day in advance. 

and how do we cure a case of dry cake:

-i’ve heard that brushing it with simple syrup helps, but this has always sounded too sticky to me.

-cover it with whipped cream or frosting. i did that and it did in fact help quite a bit. 

-rip it up and mix it into ice cream or a milk shake. i’m probably going to do this tonight. 

-make cake truffles. 

sigh. 

at least i had fun. 

for your reference, here are my valentine’s day cakes from past years. 2016's cake remains my favorite. 2016 / 2015 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011 / 2010


valentine's day almond cake

serves 10-12

ingredients

cake:

1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
8 oz almond paste
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

whipped cream:

1 1/2 c whipping cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract 

assembly:

marzipan kneaded with red, pink, and purple food coloring
sprinkles of all sorts

clues

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottom of a 10” springform pan and set aside.

in a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks and then gradually beat in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time. continue beating to stiff peaks and then set aside.

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (i usually just scoop the whites out of the bowl and transfer them to a separate bowl and then reuse my stand mixer bowl for this step), combine the almond paste and egg yolks and beat on high for 2-3 minutes until pale and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. mix in the vanilla and almond extract. gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and then fold in the flour mixture. pour the batter into the pan and then bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove to the rack to cool fully.

to make the whipped cream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, and almond extract to stiff peaks.

spread the whipped cream on top of the cake and decorate as desired!


-yeh!

mahlab sugar cookies

welcome to my second of three valentine’s day posts. i really went all in this year because the excitement flowed like magma from my temporarily red-accented, almond-scented kitchen, and unlike last year, i didn’t have a book deadline to slow it down. so i’m letting loose because valentine’s day is the best, for these reasons:

-red foods, pink foods, almond foods, and chocolate foods are really good and have the potential to be really cute

-hearts are easy shapes to cut out 

-valentine’s day falls during a time when the streets are the slushiest and the days are the coldest and darkest

-heart shaped pizza!

i’m totes making heart shaped pizza tonight for friday pizza night.

i had three (3!) flights yesterday on my way home from aspen (more on that later!), and that’s when i planned to have these cookies posted but then i couldn’t stop reading the circle. have you read it? it’s so good. on all of my flights i hid under my blanket scarf and listened to nickel creek and busted through the second half of it, just in time to land in grand forks. lily recommended it to me, and she is now 2 for 2 with the a+ recs (where’d you go bernadette? was the last book i read, on her recommendation, and it was great. so lily, plz send over more recs). and you know what the best part about it is? ok, so whenever i get really into a book, i start imagining who would play the characters in a movie version, and then i usually end up googling to see if a movie will even be made of the book (i still google “night circus movie” every few months), and when i google searched for a circle movie, i found that the movie is coming out in april and it’s starring tom hanks and emma watson. that is truly the best possible scenario for this situation and i cannot contain my excitement. 

in other news, when i wasn't reading the circle this week, i was likely watching this is a dance video. i’ve watched it so many times and i think you might enjoy it.

today i am going to do emails, play some drum pad, lift weights while listening to the new unorthodox episode, and make a batch of these here cookies for a cookie decorating book signing tomorrow at our cutest town boutique, kittsona!! so to all of my grand forks homies, come over tomorrow between noon and 2pm, hang out, decorate some cookies, and maybe get a book for your valentine???

these cookies are soft and chewy! they are a fairly standard soft sugar cookie, but have the additions of almond flour and almond extract, and ground mahlab. which clearly i can’t shut up about. but here. try it for a new frontier of almond flavored baked goods. and if you're fresh out of mahlab, you can still make these and end up with a super great soft almondy sugar cookie.

i've decorated these with crushed freeze dried berries and crushed meringues (leftover from my cookie cereal). crushed freeze dried berries are like a dainty alternative to sprinkles and you can maybe feel slightly healthier about eating a cookie since there's fruit on it? lol.


mahlab sugar cookies

makes 30 cookies

ingredients

for the cookies:

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 c almond flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

2 tsp mahlab, finely ground in a spice grinder

1 c unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 large egg

 

for the frosting:

1 c unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 c powdered sugar

1 tb whole milk

1/4 tsp almond extract

pinch of salt

 

freeze dried berries, for decorating

clues

preheat the oven to 350ºf. line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt, and mahlab.

using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. add the vanilla, the almond extract, and the egg. beat to combine.

add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat to combine.

(at this point, you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 2-3 days, or you can roll it out and bake immediately.)

turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. roll it out so it's about 1/4" thick. using a 3" circle cookie cutter, stamp out cookies and place them on the lined baking sheets, 1" apart. re-roll scraps as needed.

bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, until edges just barely begin to brown. or not even. if you look at your cookies and you can tell that they're *thinking* about browning on the bottom in the next few seconds, take em out because then they'll be nice and soft once they cool. let them cool for about 10 minutes on the pans and then remove them to a wire rack. 

while the cookies cool, make the frosting. beat together the butter and sugar, and then add the milk, almond extract, and salt. 

cover the cookies with frosting and decorate with freeze dried berries. enjoy!


-yeh!