Moroccan Almond Cookies

I’ve noticed recently that I haven’t really made or featured any desserts much on here. And it’s funny because I used to bake a lot when I was younger (my favorite is a sweet potato cake that I make at Thanksgiving). So, I have decided it is time to try out and feature more desserts.

Ever since I picked up New Moroccan by Mourad Lahlou from the library, I’ve been wanting to make these cookies. I’ve never made cookies like these before.

almond cookies

The finished product. You’ll know they’re done when they crack.

Lahlou describes them as a chewier version of an amaretto cookie and indeed, they are quite dense with a subtle almond flavor (not at all as overwhelming as you would think).

What’s great is that they are flourless, but I discovered that the almond paste actually contains wheat, so I don’t think these could be labeled as gluten-free. This may have just been the brand of almond paste that I used (and the only one available at Target), so it might be worth trying to find some that doesn’t contain wheat.

What you’ll need
1 tbsp (15g) egg white
½ tsp (2g) pure almond extract
½ tsp (2g) pure vanilla extract
8 oz. (226g) almond paste
¾ cup (116g) skin-on whole almonds
3-½ tbsp (43.8g) granulated sugar
1 tsp (4.5g) baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
About ½ cup (100g) powdered sugar

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

These are the measurements listed in the cookbook. From the start I decided to double the recipe.

Position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 325F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper sprayed lightly with nonstick cooking spray (or make things easier and just use nonstick aluminum foil – that’s what I did).

Combine the egg white, almond extract, and vanilla extract in a small spouted measuring cup.

Combine the almond paste, almonds, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and process for 1 minute, or until finely ground. If you’re using a blender (like I did), I recommend processing the almonds first until they are finely ground and then add the other ingredients one at a time. With the processor running, add the egg white mixture and process until the mixture comes together.

almond paste mixture

The almond cookie “dough”.

Note: I actually found it easier to transfer the mix to a large bowl and then combine the almond mixture with the egg mixture by hand, but that’s probably because I doubled the recipe. But, also because the mix tended to stick together near the bottom of my blender.

Using a scant tablespoon of dough, form the dough into balls. Roll the cookies in the powdered sugar and arrange them on the baking sheet. I rolled about 5 or 6 at a time, then sugared them and transferred them to the baking sheet. It’s easier to do this way, instead of having to brush your hands off after rolling each cookie.

rolling cookies

Rolling the cookies in powdered sugar.

Flatten them just a tiny bit as you go to keep them from rolling all over the baking sheets.

ready for baking

Almond cookies ready to be baked.

Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the pans after 6 minutes, until the surface of the cookie begins to crack and they take on some color. Bake for about 1 minute less if you want softer cookies. Cool on racks, the cookies will firm as they cool.

I really enjoyed making these cookies and will definitely be doing so again. But, I think the next time I will roast the almonds before grinding them, just to see how that changes the flavor.

Update 7/23: over the weekend I made these cookies again. This time I roasted the almonds for about 9 minutes. I found that it was a little more difficult to roll them into balls, and had to form them into the shape instead, as they crumbled more. But, once they came out of the oven, they were delicious. They’re a little darker in color and richer in flavor. My final verdict is that either way of making them works just fine.

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