In my baking career (purely amateur, you understand), I've made cakes and pies and tarts and scones, lemon bars and cheesecakes and custards and breads. I can probably make a tart crust with my eyes closed. Yet, I have made cookies only that one lonely time. As soon as I told you guys then that I didn't like cookies, some innate contrarian spirit made me go out there and try to bake a few. Now, these are not save the world cookies, just simple sablees with a little twist of ground almonds and cinnamon and chocolate (simple twist, did she say?), but as silly as it sounds, I really enjoyed baking these and thought I should share the experience. Oh, and I enjoyed eating them as well, and so did everyone else. Simply put, these cookies deserve to be eaten, and that's all any cookie can really wish for in its short, sweet life. :)
(adapted from Dorie Greenspan)
*Note 1* I made these with almonds and sandwiched with chocolate, but Dorie suggests that you can make them with hazelnuts, almonds or walnuts and sandwich with either chocolate or jam.
*Note 2* The recipe says that it makes 50 cookies (or 25 sandwich cookies), but I got about 1.5 times that -- maybe I roll out my dough a little thinner?
*Note 3 and final* To cut out the eyelet, use the end of a piping tip.
1 cup finely ground almonds
2 cups all purpose flour
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 tsp water
1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
For the ganache: 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, 1/4 cup cream, 1 tbsp butter at room temperature
Whisk together the ground nuts, flour, cinnamon and salt. Using a fork, stir the egg and water together in a small bowl.
Beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes; add the egg mixture and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough (don't overwork the dough). If there are dry ingredients left in the bowl, mix them in with your hands.
Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, put the dough between two large sheets of wax paper. Flatten the dough into a disk and roll it out until it's about 1/4 inch thick. Do the same with the other half. Making sure the dough is flat, transfer it to the freezer for 45 minutes (or refrigerate for 2 hrs).
Preheat the oven to 375F and line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Take out one piece of dough, and, peeling off the top piece of wax paper, cut out cookies of desired shape. If you want a peekaboo cutout, use the end of a piping tip to cut out little holes in the middle of half the cookies. Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet, leaving a little space between the cookies. If the dough has become too warm at this point, freeze it for 5 minutes more before transferring the cookies to a baking sheet. Use the scraps to roll more dough, freeze until firm and make more cookies.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 11 to 13 minutes, or until cookies are lightly golden, dry and just firm to the touch. Cool at room temperature. Repeat with the second disk of dough, making sure to cool the baking sheets between batches.
Sandwich cookies: Make the ganache by chopping the chocolate into a small bowl. Heat the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate, letting it stand for a few minutes. Then, whisk until smooth and glossy, and stir in 1 tbsp of room-temperature unsalted butter. Let the ganache cool a bit. Then, place about 1/2 tsp of the ganache in the center of half of the cookies and sandwich with the remaining cookies.
If using jam, bring 1/2 cup jam (raspberry or apricot recommended) and 1 tsp of water to a boil. Let the jam cool slightly and place 1/2 tsp of jam in the center of each cookie, sandwiching with the remaining cookies.
Before serving, dust cookies lightly with confectioners sugar.