Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy Thoughts

What helps you get through February? I guess this doesn't apply to you if you live in Australia, or somewhere where it's always sunny and beautiful. If you're like us and live elsewhere, though, you're gonnna need all your tricks in February. It's that time. You've already endured the rain and the snow and the wind, but it's not over yet. It's that month when every technical difficulty feels like a personal insult, and you're never more than two bad days away from an existential crisis. Last Friday was a particularly difficult one for me. A few things hadn't worked out and I felt totally defeated and unable to convince myself that things were alright. I happened to be with a friend who used to be a roommate, and instead of convincing me everything was ok, she just shoved me in her little kitchen and made me do what ultimately lifts me out of my blues... I guess what I'm saying is, hang in there. Spring, the end of the school year, outdoor markets, and picnic season are so close you can almost smell them. And for the time being, these cookies will make your place smell warm and happy and home-like. I promise.

Soft Almond Cookies
(from Rachel Eats)

150g ground almonds
100g powdered sugar
zest of a small lemon (or 1/4tsp cardamom for a Persian variation)
1/4tsp almond extract
1 large egg (beaten)
handful of whole almonds
Extra powdered sugar for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350/180 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with the almonds extract and lemon zest. Add to the dry mixture and form a sticky (oh it will be sticky) dough. Dip your hands in extra sugar and shape walnut-sized balls and place an inch or so apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Don't be shy on the powder for your hands, it's the only way to deal with this dough. When all your cookies are formed, make a deep indentation in the centre of each cookie with your little finger pressing almost all the way down. This is to help the cookies bake in the middle.

Bake on the middle rack for about 20 minutes or until the cookies are just slightly coloured. They will be soft out of the oven but harden as they cool so don't try to take them off the tin when they're hot. While they're soft, put an almond in the center, pressing gently to secure the nut in its place.

Enjoy with coffee, tea, or a glass of wine, and store in an air-tight tin.


  1. When I saw these cookies, way back in the day, I wanted to make them. Never did. This might sway me in that direction once again. I'm imagining one resting in the palm of my hand and then just popping the whole thing in my mouth.

  2. Almond cookies are some of my favorite and these simply look divine. February can be a challenge in Portland, too. Unfortunately, one of the reasons I think it can be so hard is that I know I have at least 3 more months of rain and chill before summertime. I usually hit the kitchen to up my spirits, and I take lots of warm baths with a good book in hand. Simple pleasures, right?

  3. Lovely cookies! Cooking is a soul-uplifting activity indeed.