Tuesday, December 23, 2014

One More Kind of Cookie Before Christmas

As I have mentioned, I got a really late start on my holiday baking. Despite this, I have managed to squeeze in 6 kinds of cookies. I  made some Miracle Peanut Butter Cookies with Hershey's Kisses in the center, Forgotten Cookies, Rolled Butter Cookies, Cherry Bon Bons and Thumbprints. (Click on any of the highlighted recipes to go straight to that recipe page.) Yesterday I also made another kind, which I am calling Almond Meringue Tarts, though they are not in traditional tart shape. 

Almond Meringue Tarts

These cookies are easy to make, as with most cookies. The forming takes no time at all; simply slice them and set on the baking sheet. There is a meringue that goes on top before baking, which can either be placed with two spoons, or with a piping bag, as preferred. The meringue contains a lot of ground almonds, hence "almond" in the title, along with almond extract in both the cookie base and the meringue.They are really delightful! I chose to sprinkle some festive jimmies on top before baking, but colored sugars would work as well.

Almond Meringue Tarts

Makes about 6 dozen
Almond Meringue Tarts

2 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

6 tablespoons egg whites (from 2 - 3 eggs, depending on size)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups blanched, slivered almonds
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Make cookie dough: In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Cut int he butter as for pie dough, until well blended and crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and extracts. Pour this over the blended mixture and toss with a fork to moisten, just as for pie dough. If the dough will not come together as one mass, sprinkle in 2 teaspoons water and mix again. Continue, until the mixture just forms a mass. Divide the dough in two parts. Roll each part into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Repeat with the second section of dough. Roll each of the logs into waxed paper, twist the ends closed and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

Almond Meringue Tarts, cooling
When ready to bake, make the meringue: Place the 2 cups almonds into a food processor with the 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and process until very fine, but not oily. Set aside.

Place the egg whites into a mixer bowl with the cream of tartar and with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Begin adding in the 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar about 1 tablespoon at a time, until the meringue holds stiff peaks and is smooth and glossy. Add in the almond extract. By hand, fold in the ground almonds gently, until combined.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove one of the logs of dough from the refrigerator and remove the waxed paper. With a sharp knife, slice the log as thinly as possible; about 3/16-inch thick. Set these little discs onto an ungreased cookie sheet, at least 1 inch apart. Pipe or drop little mounds of the almond meringue on top of each cookie disc. Top with a colored sugar or other festive decorative topping. Bake the cookies for about 16 to 18 minutes, until set and lightly browned.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.