Friday, October 9, 2015

Chocolate Dipped Almond Horseshoe Cookies

It’s the moment for cookie making.  Right about this time of year is when I start to think about the holiday pastries in my repertoire and what kind of experimenting and developing I want to do to keep things interesting for the season.

This is another very simple nut cookie that has a crisp and light quality along with the added bonus of a little dip in chocolate.  The cookie is flavored with almonds and vanilla and a touch of cinnamon.  I also include a small amount of unhulled sesame seeds for added texture and flavor.  The dough is mixed in a food processor so it’s quick and easy once you assemble all your ingredients. 

Speaking of assembling ingredients, I ran across an article on how to approach recipes and time spent in the kitchen.  It really rang true for me so I thought I’d recommend it to you.  It’s about visualizing your preparation of a dish before you begin.  Anyone who’s ever worked in a professional kitchen knows this rhythm very well.  You imagine in your head and think through the prep first before you even get started.  You read the recipe a couple of times and you can see and almost taste the desired result.  You think about the collection of ingredients and each step you need to take to get to the final product.  Organizing yourself in this way makes it much easier to actually cook or bake and it helps prevent any last minute surprises.  It makes the whole thing that much more pleasurable and builds your confidence about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.  I find this especially true for pastry.  Check it out!

You can shape these cookies any way you’d like.  I went for a horseshoe as a symbol of good luck.  I think finding homemade cookies in your midst does happen to feel quite lucky, especially when it's a simple nut cookie dipped in chocolate.

Bench notes:
- I like to use sliced almonds because they grind to a finer crumb.  To toast them, spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree F oven for about 5 – 7 minutes.  Watch them closely as they will burn quickly.
- A #40 ice cream scoop helps to portion the cookie dough.
- When shaping the dough into logs that form the horseshoes, make sure the pieces are the same thickness from middle to ends so they will bake evenly.
- I shape the cookies into horseshoes on the baking sheet so I don’t have to lift and move them.
- I recommend semisweet chocolate for the coating because the cookies aren’t terribly sweet.

Chocolate Dipped Almond Horseshoe Cookies
Makes 30 cookies

2 cups (10 oz) flour
1 cup (3 oz) sliced toasted almonds
1/4 cup (1 oz) sesame seeds
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (4 1/2 oz) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
8 oz (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Chocolate Coating
4 oz semi-sweet (62%) chocolate                      
2 oz (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter                                                                             

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Prepare baking sheets with parchment or silpats.

Place the flour, almonds, seeds, sugar, salt and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor and process until the nuts are finely ground.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2” pieces and add to the flour mixture along with the egg yolk, vanilla and almond extracts.  Process until the mixture collects into damp clumps. Place the dough in a bowl and cover it tightly.   Chill for 2 - 4 hours or until the dough has firmed up enough to handle with ease.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare baking sheets with parchment or silpats.

Portion the cookie dough into 1 1/2” balls.  Then form each one into 3 1/2” logs of uniform thickness.  Place them on the prepared baking sheets and shape each one into a horseshoe.

Bake until only slightly colored on the top and golden brown on the bottom, about 15 - 17 minutes.  Rotate baking sheets halfway through to ensure even baking and browning.  Remove and place on a wire rack until cookies are completely cool.

For the chocolate coating, finely chop the chocolate.  Place in a heatproof bowl with the butter and melt over a pot with an inch or two of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water.  Stir to thoroughly combine.  Remove from heat. 

Dip the ends of each cooled cookie into the bowl.  Scrape the excess from the bottom of the cookie against the edge of the bowl and place on a wire rack or silpat to dry.


Unknown said...

This looks great. Could I substitute almond butter for the regular butter?

pastry studio said...

There are some sources that say you can do a straight substitution of almond butter for butter but I honestly don't know because I've never tried it. I wish I could give you a better answer but I do suggest that if you'd like to try it, cut the recipe in half and give it a go. I hope it works for you!

Anonymous said...

Could I use whole almonds, if I rough chop them before grinding? Hate to buy sliced when I have a large bag of whole almonds on hand.

pastry studio said...

Sure! The cookies might have a courser texture but that's OK.

Keep in mind that 1 cup of sliced almonds is 3 oz and 1 cup of whole almonds is 5 oz. So you want to use about 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of whole almonds to get to 3 oz. If you have a scale, so much the better.

Also, grind them with the sugar until they are fine. Then add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and proceed with the directions.

Hope this helps!

DiscoverChocolate said...

How come the cookies aren't that sweet? They do look really nice, and I like your additives of sesame seeds and cinnamon. You can really see the difference between this and your ginger cookies in a different post you have done which you say you like a bit more chewy. Definitely going to try making these but going to try without using sugar :S

pastry studio said...

These cookies are more in the tradition of a shortbread, which doesn't have an overly sweet taste.

Sugar is a tenderizer as well as a sweetener. If you leave out the sugar, the texture will be quite different and the taste will be more like a cracker.