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The roots of this recipe are circuitous, which most recipes actually are – at least the ones I adore. Let’s begin at the beginning. True story: while hiking with me in Mexico, my sister Susan mentioned these little almond gems because we incessantly talk about food and cooking and she knows I love, love, love crispy, nutty, not too sweet, easy to make cookies to have with tea or coffee. Shortly thereafter she sent me a link to the recipe for Almond Slices from David Lebovitz’s blog and he gave credit to his recently deceased friend Flo Braker. So from Flo to David to Susan to moi. Oui oui!
I had the added benefit of my sister’s suggestions and comments before I actually got started. We decided that a bit more cinnamon hit the spot and agreed that salted butter would add a nice balance to the sweetness of the cookies. We both have the same oven and probably equivalent baking skills, so that works for me. I made them and loved them – crispy, nice texture, nutty, sweet and so good it’s impossible for me to eat fewer than two at a time. Susan made them for her 4th of July bash and they were ooooed and ahhhed over, and the only people that haven’t liked them to date are Jakey Boy, his wife Nazlee and her Persian family. These naysayers do not like sweet desserts ever, so do not let this stop you.
The original recipe says this makes 80-90, but in my world I would count on 45-55 realistically. Unless you slice more thinly than me…
- 1 stick of salted butter (4 oz) cut into 8 pieces.
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 ⅓ cups raw turbinado sugar (most grocery stores will carry this)
- ½ heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 ⅓ cups unbleached all purpose flour
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 cup sliced almonds
Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat with the water, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir until the butter just melts but don’t allow it to boil: most of the sugar should not be dissolved.
Remove from the heat and stir in the flour, baking soda, and almonds with a rubber spatula until well blended.
A great tip, per Mr. Lebovitz, is not to let the sugar melt when you’re mixing in the butter; the big crystals add a wonderful crunch to these delightfully delicious cookies.
Line a 8-9-inch bread loaf pan with plastic wrap and press the dough into the pan so the top is smooth. I do this with an offset spatula. Cover well and chill until very firm. Personally, I do this overnight.
To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325Fº. Using a very sharp chef’s knife, slice the dough crosswise, as thin as possible, into rectangles. The thinner they are, the more delicate and crisp they’ll be.
Space the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets and bake in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies feel slightly firm and the undersides are golden brown. Carefully turn the cookies to their other side with a large offset spatula and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cookies are crisp and deep golden-brown on top. The baking times depend on how thin you cut the cookies. Mine took 15 minutes for the first side and 13-15 minutes for the second side. Be careful because they go from nutty brown to burned in a flash, and I speak from experience.
Cool completely, then store in an airtight bin until ready to serve.
Storage: Once baked, the cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days or in the freezer for a month.
The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days, or frozen for up to two months, if well-wrapped. I have even sliced and baked the cookies straight from the freezer with great results. Perhaps I should let David in on this little tip!