Learning about food, photography, and writing. Sharing what I find.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Toasted Almond Experiment

Sometimes a single ingredient will spur a whole afternoon of baking.

The other day, I impulse-bought a bag of Toasted Almond Crunch at The Chef's Equipment Emporium while picking up a last-minute Christmas gift. My husband, my mom, and I all loooove toasted almond ice cream and I thought, "I'll just whip up some of this with vanilla bean and we'll all be happy." Well, we whipped up enough ice cream to feed seven of us . . . and I still have 3/4 of the bag of crunch left. What to do?

I set out looking for a chocolate cookie that could do with a little roll-about in Toasted Almond Crunch. I think I succeeded, though not really as I expected (I couldn't exactly roll this dough in the crunch due to its more batter-like consistency. Oh well, sprinkling did the trick).

When I have an idea, but no clue where to begin, I always go to Epicurious. Just type an ingredient or a general idea into the Search field and see what the experts have to say! For this, I typed in "chocolate cookies" and found these suckers on the third page of results. Bonus! I could also use up some of the enormous block of chocolate that's been sitting, calling to me on the counter.

The smell of these cookies as they were baking even brought my husband out of the PlayStation 3 trance he'd been in all morning.

Toasted Almond Brownie Cookies (This recipe is a major modification of the recipe posted on Epicurious, October 2001):
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour (I added a little extra later because the batter was very thin)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 Tbs. brewed espresso or coffee (I used the leftover french press coffee from that morning!)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 Tbs. butter (unsalted or salted, whichever you have)
  • 5 oz. extra-bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I actually just used 7 oz. of extra-bittersweet and they were still nice and richly dark-tasting)
  • 3/4 chocolate chips of your choice (They recommend mini ones, I used even more of my bittersweet chocolate chopped up . . . can you tell I like dark chocolate?)
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond crunch

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease 2 baking sheets (or line with parchment paper or the fabulous invention, Silpat. Too bad mine is in storage right now)
In a small bowl, whisk together the Flour, Baking Powder, and Salt.

Set Aside.
In your electric mixer, briefly whip the Eggs to break them up (I used the whisk attachment for the duration of the recipe).
Add the Sugar, Espresso/Coffee, Vanilla Extract, and Amond Extract and beat on high speed for 15-25 minutes or until very thick (here's where I probably should have gone longer and why I probably needed to add a little flour at the end).
While the eggs are whipping, chop up the Extra-Bittersweet Chocolate and the Unsweetened Chocolate (or, in my case, a massive amount of the former: Seven ounces to be melted and 3/4 of a cup to stir in later).

Place the Butter in your double boiler (or equivalent contraption) and scatter the chocolate on top.

Heat until they melt together.

Be careful not to over-cook the butter/chocolate mixture, just melt it and remove the boiler top from the water. Stir until smooth.
Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until partially combined (It'll be streaky once you manage to stir it together . . . be patient, unlike me).
Add the flour mixture to the batter and carefully fold it in. Fold in the chocolate chips.

If the batter is very runny, let it rest until it thickens slightly, about 15-20 minutes (Do this before jumping to adding more flour like I did. The second round I put in the oven did much better because they had been standing while the first round cooked).
Drop the batter by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.
Sprinkle all or some of the raw cookies with the Toasted Almond Crunch.

Bake until puffed and cracked, about 8-9 minutes (I definitely cooked my first round a little too much. Stay on the lower end of the scale and they will firm up as the cool).
Cool cookies while still on baking sheets.

The sweetness of the crunch cuts the bitterness of the chocolate nicely and adds texture to these chewy, rich cookies.

They stack up nicely against the texture of the January 8th's Brownie Cupcakes. Pun completely intended:


  1. A fresh batch of cookies always gets my hubby's attention too...no matter how burried in Philosophy books and logic proofs! I'll have to try these. I wonder how the almond crunch would do if mixed right into the batter?

  2. My scale! My scale! I can't think of a tastier maiden voyage! Whatever weight it measured, I can say it was JUST RIGHT!