I apologize if this messes with any diet resolutions, but here’s to a little balance and wishing you all a delicious new year with a bundle of sweetness, a dose of nuttiness, and pinch of salt.
Almond butter does wondrous things to this chocolate chunk cookie. It’s not as pronounced in flavor as peanut butter which, in my opinion, can overwhelm a cookie. Almond butter is mellower, adding a rich, golden background to the dough with a hint of roasted nuts. A dusting of sea salt is an extra touch – optional but highly recommended. A little salt makes everything taste better – even sweets – especially when chocolate is involved.
Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies Makes about 36 cookies
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted creamy almond butter (not raw)
7 ounces chopped dark chocolate
Sea salt flakes for garnish, optional
1. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
2. Cream the butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Add the almond butter and mix until smooth.
3. Dump the flour into the mixing bowl and mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated without over-mixing. Stir in the chocolate, including all of the little pieces and dusty bits (they will melt into the batter). Refrigerate the batter for at least one hour or up to 24 hours.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Drop rounded tablespoons of the dough on baking sheets lined with parchment. Add a tiny pinch of sea salt flakes to each cookie, if desired. Bake until light golden, 12 to 14 minutes.
5. Slide the parchment and cookies on a rack to cool. The cookies will continue to firm up while cooling.
Almond flour, almonds, and oats confer in a dense and spiced streusel, sandwiching an intense raspberry filling, while debatably nudging these bars into the kind-of-sort-of healthy department…oh, who am I kidding. Whether you call these raspberry bars indulgent or healthy(ish), they should be a must-have on your holiday cookie to-do list.
Raspberry Almond Streusel Bars
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Makes 16 (2-inch) square bars.
Crust and Topping:
1 cup almond flour (meal)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord (optional)
1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 opposite sides. Butter the parchment.
2. Combine the almond meal, flour, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine, 1 to 2 times. Add the butter and extracts. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 10 to 12 times. Transfer 3/4 cup of the mixture to a bowl, add the almonds and set aside for the topping. Press the remaining mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Bake until light golden brown, about 12 minutes.
3. Place the preserves, raspberries, and liqueur, if using, in a bowl. Mix with a fork to combine, lightly mashing the whole raspberries but leaving some pieces intact. Spread the raspberries over the crust. Sprinkle the topping over the filling.
4. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cut in 2-inch squares. Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
My new book: Almonds – Recipes, History, Culture
with Barbara Bryant, Betsy Fentress and photographs by Robert Holmes
I am very excited to share with you the upcoming release of a new cookbook, “Almonds – Recipes, History, Culture” for which I created and developed the recipes. And what perfect timing: With the start of a new year bright with possibilities and resolutions for good luck, good health, and prosperity, there is no better symbol than the almond. Ancient and worldly, almonds have appeared throughout civilization from antiquity to modern times, celebrated as a symbol of good luck, fertility and love. Almonds are also a precious ingredient in myriad cuisines, viewed as a staple and a delicacy and touted as a superfood for their nutritional and health benefits.
This book was a collaboration, born from the inspiration of Barbara Bryant and Betsy Fentress to showcase the timeless almond. My delicious role was the creation of all 60 recipes, taking inspiration from the world’s kitchens including cuisines as far flung as China, India, Lebanon, France, Italy and Mexico and adapting them to the modern kitchen. The book was brought to life under the direction and creative vision of Jennifer Barry and captured by the impeccable photography of Robert Holmes. It takes a village.
Almond Granita with Raspberry Syrup
Almonds – Recipes, History, Culture is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, and will be available as of March 1st. Happy reading, happy eating, and happy new year!
This dessert has the whiff of Christmas. The good news is that you don’t need to wait until December to taste it. It’s really a 2-part dessert, with each component stand-alone good. Fresh figs are poached in a heady reduction of Port wine, balsamic vinegar, citrus and spice yielding intense results reminiscent of Christmas puddings and mulled wine. You could stop there and serve the figs in their stew as a simple dessert soup, but why hold back? That was my thought, when I ladled the figs and their sauce over a wedge of melt-in-your-mouth semifreddo. Semifreddo is a fancy way to describe this frozen Italian concoction of whipped cream and meringue, which, in this case, is flecked with toasted almonds and orange zest. Each bite is ethereal, light and airy, disappearing on the tongue in a teasing poof. For a little structure and lasting crunch, I topped the dessert with a shard of caramelized almond praline. Like I said – why hold back?
Orange Almond Semifreddo with Port Wine Poached Figs
Active Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes, plus cooling and freezing time
3/4 cup whole almonds
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Pinch of salt
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 teaspoon orange liqueur, such as Gran Marnier or Cointreau
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Port wine
1/4 cup brown sugar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
12 large dried figs, stems removed, halved
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Prepare the semifreddo:
1. Line a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with plastic, leaving a 3-inch overhang.
2. Place the almonds and the 2 tablespoons sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add the orange zest and salt and pulse once or twice to blend.
3. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until they begin to hold soft peaks. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until the egg whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks. Transfer to a large bowl.
4. In a clean mixing bowl, beat the cream, orange liqueur, and vanilla extract in a clean mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the cream until no traces are visible. Gently fold the almonds into the egg whites until evenly distributed. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Cover tightly with plastic. Freeze at least 8 hours or overnight.
Prepare the figs:
Bring all of the compote ingredients, except the figs, to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and boil until the liquid reduces by half. Strain the liquid and return to the saucepan. Add the figs and simmer, partially covered, over medium-low heat until soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and cool completely in the liquid. (Figs may be prepared up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate until use. Bring to room temperature to serve.)
Prepare the praline:
Heat the sugar in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until sugar melts, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until sugar turns amber in color. Add the almonds and sea salt and stir quickly to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and spread into a thin layer. Do not touch with your fingers. Cool completely. Break into small pieces.
When ready to serve, remove the semifreddo from the loaf pan. Working quickly, cut in 3/4-inch slices and arrange on serving plates or shallow bowls. Spoon figs and juice over the semifreddo and garnish with praline shards. Serve immediately.
I’ll be honest. The real star of this salmon dish is the green olive and almond tapenade. No offense to the salmon, which is sublime as always. But, frankly, this tapenade is positively addictive, adding salty, briny brightness and crunch to the buttery salmon. So, if possible, make a double batch of the tapenade. Then you will have extra to smear on a slice of bread or swipe a carrot stick through. You might even find yourself eating it straight up from a bowl with a spoon. I’m speaking from experience.
Roasted Salmon with Green Olive Tapenade
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: about 40 minutes
Serves 4; makes about 1 1/2 cups tapenade
12 ounces pitted green olives
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
2 anchovies, drained
1 large garlic clove
2 teaspoons capers
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets, pin bones removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus 4 lemon wedges for serving
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Make the tapenade: Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process to a coarse paste, without letting it get mushy. (The tapenade may be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.)
2. Heat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the salmon in one layer in a roasting pan, skin side down. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and the lemon juice. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until the salmon is just cooked through the center, about 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filets.
3. Transfer to serving plates and top each filet with about 2 tablespoons of the tapenade. Serve with a lemon wedge.
Biscotti are a twice-baked crisp Italian cookie, famously crunchy and perfect for dipping in coffee or milk. Many variations exist, including the traditional anise or almond biscotti, as well as cocoa infused chocolate biscotti. In this recipe I threw in everything I like in a cookie: chocolate, raisins, toasted almonds and orange zest. It sounds like a busy list of ingredients, but the resulting cookie was delightfully simple and not overly sweet.
Orange, Chocolate and Almond Biscotti I added raisins to the biscotti as an afterthought for a little sweetness and texture; they may be omitted if you prefer a drier biscotti. I recommend using golden raisins for their color and flavor if you can find them.
Makes approximately 30 biscotti.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping tablespoon orange zest
3.5 ounces (100 g.) finely chopped or grated dark chocolate
1 cup finely chopped toasted almonds
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a bowl of an electric mixer. Mix briefly to combine. Whisk eggs, oil, orange liqueur, vanilla and zest together in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the flour. Beat on medium speed until combined, 1 minute. Stir in chocolate, raisins and almonds.
Divide dough in half. Transfer to baking sheet and shape each half into a log the length of the baking sheet. Flatten each log into a 2 inch wide strip. Bake until firm and beginning to color, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes.
Reduce oven to 300 F. (150 C.) Transfer biscotti to a cutting board. Cut in 3/4 inch strips with a serrated knife. Arrange cut side down on baking sheet. Bake until they are lightly golden, about 20 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and cool completely on racks. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.