Monday, December 20, 2010

Chocolate-Almond Icebox Cookies

Lately I have been obsessed with all things almond.  I'm not sure where this is coming from because I am usually a vanilla girl, but I seem to be unusually drawn to almond-flavored things recently.  On Thanksgiving, for instance, I made a fabulous recipe for Almond Cookies that had a whole tube of almond paste mixed in.  I LOVED it!  I'll post that recipe on here soon, too -- I'm sure you guys will enjoy that one just as much as I did.
This particular recipe is a loose adaptation of a Martha Stewart recipe that calls for espresso powder, black pepper, and vanilla extract.  Since I was still in the mood for almond, I decided to leave out the espresso and black pepper and substitute in almond extract for the vanilla.  I've made the recipe as-is before and it is wonderful, so I knew switching just a few of the flavorings around would still leave me with a delicious cookie.  I bet this would be great with a little bit of orange zest in it, too.  I love the combination of rich dark chocolate with the little orange flecks of zest mixed in.
This is a nice, simple chocolate icebox cookie, so it can be made well in advance and left in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them up.  They cook just long enough to be set, but I don't like to make them too crispy and crunchy.  I like the chocolatey center to still be a tiny bit soft and with a little bit of give.  Rolling the log in sanding sugar before slicing and baking gives the cookies a glittery sparkle effect, like beautiful chocolate jewels waiting to be eaten.  Enjoy the deliciousness!

Chocolate-Almond Icebox Cookies
1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 & 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
coarse sanding sugar

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar for a few minutes, until well combined.  Add in egg and almond extract.  Add in flour mixture, stirring until just combined.
Roll the dough into a log in a large sheet of parchment and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350.  Allow dough to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before unwrapping.  Sprinkle with sanding sugar, pressing the dough so the sugar will stick to it.  Cut into 1/4-inch slices.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat and bake for 10 minutes.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

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