Sunday, February 26, 2012

reality cookies

This cookie does not look like much. On first glance we can be forgiven for thinking it a basic sugar cookie that someone stuck some m&m's into. Oh how wrong we are. I have loved this cookie for about 15 years. It is a nutty, buttery, crumbly not-too-sweet dough punctuated by little chocolate presents. The secret to this dough is ground almonds.

The recipe is from The Fiddlehead Cookbook. I have referred to this cookbook before. There is a cafe back home that sometimes makes these cookies into giant palm-sized lovelies and stacks them into glass canisters near the cash register. It is genius because, in my opinion, they are not be resisted.

When I got married, the mother of one of my childhood friends cooked up a batch for my bridal shower. She jokingly said she chose them because married life was going to be a whole new "reality" (she was completely right.) The reality in the title of this cookie really comes from "...that granulated sugar and white flour make really good cookies."

reality cookies

3/4 pound butter
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 cup finely ground almonds (see note below**)
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup M&Ms

1) Preheat oven to 275 (yes, really that low) and arrange racks so they are evenly spaced in center of oven.

2) In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat butter until fluffy. Add white and brown sugars and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

3) Add almonds and flour. Stir gently until almost completely combined.

4) Add M&Ms and stir just until dough comes together. If you are using a mixing machine, dough will begin to come away from the sides of bowl.

5) Shape dough into ping pong size balls an place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Lightly flour the bottom of a small glass, cookie press, or palm of your hand and flatten each cookie to about 1/2 inch thick. Place an M&M in center of each cookie and bake until very lightly golden brown and beginning to puff slightly in center (about 20 minutes.)

6) Remove from oven and transfer to racks to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Makes approx. 32 cookies.

**About ground almonds- I certainly do not claim this to be the "official" way to grind almonds, but here's how I do it: I take handfuls of plain, unroasted almonds and blitz them in the food processor. This makes a horrible raucous (like I am attempting to grind marbles) that is somehow quite satisfying. I process the almonds until they are very finely chopped. Then, I measure one cup of ground almonds, not 1 cup of almonds ground. 

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