This week, with the draft of my fourth Key West mystery, MURDER WITH GANACHE, delivered to the publisher (yay!), I decided to see if I could produce something similar. There are many recipes that come up if you Google almond cloud cookies, most of them based on a King Arthur bakery recipe. There are some minor deviations--almond oil added, a vanilla bean scraped into the batter, an orange, zested. Here's how I made them.
My taste-tester said: WOW!
Almond Cloud Cookies
10 oz almond paste (this comes in a block--I found it in the cheese specialty department of my local grocery store)
1 cup sugar
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 vanilla bean (or 1/4 tsp vanilla extract)
Preheat the oven to 325 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the extracts or the extract plus the seeds from the vanilla bean. (I've never tried a vanilla bean before--it's expensive and a little strange. I'm not sure whether the taste makes a huge difference--I'd have to make and sample a second version. Sigh.)
Add the almond paste to the sugar and mix until the ingredients are crumbly. Many of the recipes suggested making the cookies in a stand mixer, which I don't own. (This I'm going to rectify, along with learning to use my camera so my photos are better!)
But meanwhile, I broke the paste up using a pastry cutter and then attacked it with my electric mixer.
Whip the egg whites until frothy, and add them slowly to the sugar etc, mixing until a smooth paste is formed.
Scoop the dough onto the prepared pans about a tablespoon at a time.
You should end up with about 20 cookies laid out on two pans. Sprinkle the cookies heavily with confectioners sugar, and use your fingers to make indentations on the top of each.
Bake 20-25 minutes until tops begin to turn golden. (Mine took about 22.) They are fabulous warm--chewy and sweet--and they freeze well.
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