In 1972 noted chef and food writer James Beard wrote in his classic tome American Cookery that Chinese almond cookies “have been favorites in homes or bakeries on the West Coast for almost a hundred years, and their fame has spread.” Indeed, in the post–World War II era, restaurants such as Cathay House in Boston, Don the Beachcomber in Palm Springs, and Tommy Wong’s in Los Angeles would serve almond cookies on the dessert menu, alongside fortune cookies and “litchi” nuts. Over time, almond cookies have become more of a Chinese bakery treat, but their nutty fragrance and lightly sweet crunch are no less inviting. This recipe is an easy way to whip up dozens of these cookie classics, whether or not you live close to a Chinatown bakery.
- Yield: 3 Servings
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 40 whole almonds
- 1 large egg, beaten, for glaze
- special equipment
- Mixer with paddle attachment
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat in the softened butter a few pieces at a time at low speed, until the texture resembles that of cornmeal. Beat in the eggs and almond extract until a smooth dough is formed.
- Roll the dough between your palms into 1¼-inch balls and place them 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Using the palm of your hand, gently flatten each ball and place an almond in the middle of each. Brush the top of each cookie with egg glaze.
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are golden on top, rotating the top and bottom baking sheets halfway through. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and allow them to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. The cookies will keep for up to 3 to 4 days in an airtight container.