07 December 2012
Almond poppyseed cookies for all & sundry
December is the height of cookie season at my house. Actually, we tend not to have any cookies at any other time, so I suppose it's the only part of cookie season. Um.
It's cookie season! Let's make some cookies!
Nearly every winter I bake a batch of our now-traditional Swedish farmer cookies. You may have heard of these, since they're one of the few kinds of cookies I ever make. But this year I decided it was time to step it up a notch. So yesterday I not only made a batch of Swedish farmer cookies for our annual cookie exchange, but also a totally new-to-me cookie: almond poppyseed cookies.
This was a great choice for a few different reasons.
1. I have a big bag of poppyseeds hanging out in our spice cabinet, and it's hard to find ways to use more than a tablespoon at a time.
2. There was significant ingredient overlap between the two cookie recipes, so I didn't have to do much prep at all between batches. I also completely used up the almonds, which is good, since my freezer is still just as full as ever.
3. Both recipes are for refrigerator cookies, so it was more than plausible that I'd bake only some of each batch and freeze the rest. Now I have all the cookie dough in the land hanging out in my freezer, waiting for emergency late-night cookie-baking sessions. Hooray!
This recipe comes recommended by my friend Veronica, who is a pretty amazing baker in her own right. The original version is from Penzey's.
Almond Poppyseed Cookies
1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1/2 cup poppy seeds
1/4 tsp salt
additional sugar for decoration
Cream the butter with the sugar. If you are unfamiliar with the term "cream" as used in this context, it's ok; it just means "beat until light and fluffy". Add your egg and vanilla and beat well.
Mix all the dry ingredients (minus decorating sugar) in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in several batches, beating well after each addition. Or, if you are me, you can add the almond meal, poppyseeds, and salt to the wet mix first, beat well, and then add the flour in smaller increments. I used a cup and a half of plain all-purpose flour and half a cup of whole wheat, because that's how I roll. I would also like to note that it is not necessarily the best idea to grind your almonds in a coffee grinder if you have other options available. I'm just saying.
The finished dough will be pliable and easy to handle. Gather it into a ball, divide it into equal parts--the original recipe said two parts, but I made four, because I like smaller cookies--and roll each part into a log. If you want to end up with cookies edged in sparkling sugar, roll your dough logs in the sugar of your choice. I rolled two of mine in raw sugar, but found that the large granules were not super interested in sticking to the dough, so I left the other two plain.
Wrap your dough logs in waxed paper, plastic wrap, or tinfoil, and stick them in the refrigerator for at least an hour. You can also freeze a few of the rolls for super easy slice and bake action later, if you prefer. I highly recommend this course of action.
When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325F. Slice your dough into 1/4 inch cookies, arrange on parchment or silicone-lined baking sheets, and bake for about 12 minutes, or until just starting to brown around the edges.
Cool on a rack until you can't possibly wait any longer.
These guys are very buttery, not too sweet, and excitingly full of seeds that pop under your teeth. They're also very good with tea, as all shortbready cookies tend to be. Really, is there a cookie on the planet that is bad with tea?
Which cookies are holiday traditions at your house?