So, I’ve blogged a lot about how the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the baking frenzy time. That big, heavy KitchenAid stand mixer comes out of the closet and occupies a semi-permanent spot on the kitchen counter during that six week period. If I have a spare half hour, you can be sure I’ll be using to it bake cookies or, more accurately, make dough. Then the doughs are piled into the fridge, individually wrapped in plastic and labeled with a sticky note, until I’m ready to bake them and pack them up in gift boxes. My list of holiday cookies is long, a mix of old favorites and new ideas. As the years go by those new ideas are either promoted to the “perennial” category, or they get trashed if they’re not good enough. These Vanilla Almond Smash Cookies are a total perennial.
They’re my favorite kind of Christmas cookie in that they’re pretty easy to make and don’t require decorating. Decorating is fun in the beginning of the holiday season, but as things get really busy I just don’t have the patience for it. These cookies have a flaky, crumbly texture with a mildly sweet, nutty flavor and a totally intoxicating vanilla scent. I find them to be so perfectly simple. And they are the absolute best cookies to have with your coffee or tea. They’re one of my mom’s favorite cookies. Sometimes I’ll ship them to her down in Florida so that she can dip them in her coffee when she calls me in the mornings.
So what’s up with the “smash” in these Vanilla Almond Smash Cookies? Well, these cookies were always my snowball cookies – i.e. shaped like little balls. One year I was determined to make them into pretty shapes instead. I was rolling the dough out so I could use cookie cutters with it, and the dough was not cooperating. I tried a few times, and it just kept breaking! It was so frustrating! No matter how hard I tried, the dough was just going to be its little crumbly self and refuse to let me make it pretty. Rude.
So I begrudgingly formed it into balls like I always had, and tossed it into the oven. I pulled them from the oven a few minutes before they were finished (something you should try, as it almost always yields a better cookie) and was still so annoyed that I couldn’t get them into any better shape than dumb little balls. So I grabbed a fork and, peanut butter cookie style, make crisscross imprints in each of them. Hence, the smash. Now they’re a shape I can live with, and bonus, they’re much easier to dunk in coffee than snowballs.
Once they cool, give them a quick dip in powdered sugar and you’re ready to gift, dunk or just plain enjoy. My vote? Dunk. Always dunk.
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 3 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups slivered almonds
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Pulse the almonds in a food processor until fine. Do not overprocess or you’ll end up with almond butter. Transfer almonds to a large bowl. Add butter, sugar and vanilla. Cream together using a handheld mixer.
Stir in the flour until combined. Form the dough into balls the size of golf balls. Place onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes, then remove from oven. Using the back of a fork, smash the cookies down, making a crisscross pattern. Return to the oven and bake another 2 minutes.
Cool the cookies on a wire rack. Once cooled, dip them in powdered sugar to coat both sides.