Sugary, light vanilla cookies pizzazzed up with orange zest sandwich creamy almond-chocolate filling.
Still have to come up with a better name for these . Maybe you could help. The idea for this creation started with the chocolate-almond spread I made a couple of days ago. I thought it would make a delicious filling in a sandwich cookie, and since the spread is chocolate, I wanted the cookie to be vanilla. I found a basic sugar cookie recipe, omitted the chocolate the recipe called for and added vanilla and orange zest. “Perfect!” I thought. A vanilla cookie with orange zest sandwiching chocolate almond spread. How about the name VOCNFS Cookie to borrow from the texting world? Uh… no. I’m open to suggestions!
Vanilla Orange Sandwich Cookie
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add zest. Mix. Add butter. Mix. Then add egg and vanilla. Continue mixing until dough comes together.
Take rounded teaspoons of batter. Roll into a ball and flatten for uniform cookies. Place approximately two inches apart on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes, until cookies are slightly cracked on the top.
Remove from oven and set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
To assemble the sandwiches: take one cookie and smear chocolate-nut spread evenly on the bottom of the cookie (because the bottom side will be flat. You want the cracked tops of the cookie to be on the outside.) Take a matching cookie and gently press flat side into the chocolate spread. Voila! You have a sandwich cookie. Continue with remainder of cookies.
We took these cookies to our friends’ house. They gave these cookies high marks on the would-you-buy-these-in-a fancy-cookie-shoppe test!
Creamy-smooth chocolate almond spread ready for toast, dolloping inside crêpes, or drizzling on pancakes or waffles.
Being hundreds of miles from roads or specialty stores and becoming more curious about how foods we take for granted are actually created drives me to experiment. Today’s challenge? Nutella.
In high school, a German friend introduced me to this chocolate-hazelnut spread that looks a little like peanut butter. But sister, it’s not peanut butter! Nutella is sweet, creamy, and chocolately and is great spread on fruits and breads and a whole lot of other things, or scooped out of the jar and eaten off the spoon!
I found a recipe, but of course I modified it to fit the items in my pantry. Substituting almonds for hazelnuts, and armed with my new stick blender (with nut chopping attachment), I set to work. As I processed the nuts from a grain to coarse flour and finally into a butter, I was amazed. It really worked! Mixed with chocolate, the result tasted like an almond version of Nutella. Fabulous! (Incidentally, the earliest versions of Nutella, created in Italy, used either almonds or hazelnuts.)
Now I’m ready to make those macarons I keep seeing. Or maybe I can convince Jack to make chocolate-almond crêpes for breakfast!
Chocolate Almond Spread
Yield: about 8 ounces (1 cup)
1 cup whole raw almonds
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
up to 1/4 cup vegetable or nut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Skin almonds by pouring boiling water over them in a bowl and letting them sit for 2 minutes. Drain off hot water and replace with cold water. Almond skins should pop off when you squeeze the individual almonds. I’ve read rubbing the almonds in a clean towel at this point will also remove skins, but that didn’t work for me.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place almonds in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Toast for 10 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color.
Process nuts in a food processor, or use a stick blender. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary until the nuts have liquefied, about 5 minutes. First, you will get coarsely chopped nuts, then a fine meal. After a little while, the nuts will form a ball around the blade, and it will seem like you have a solid mass. Keep processing. The heat and friction will extract the natural oils from the nuts, and you will get almond butter!
When the nuts have liquified, add the sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Slowly drizzle in enough oil to make a spreadable consistency. Since the mixture is warm, it will be more fluid now than at room temperature.
Transfer the spread to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 to 2 months. For best results, stir the chocolate-almond spread before using.
Adapted from http://www.sugoodsweets.com/blog/2005/12/nutella/