We are introduced, at an early age, to the sweet wondernous of a cookie. From teething cookies to soothe the swollen aching gums of incoming incisors, onto animal crackers purchased in rectangular-shaped boxes bearing a string handle for easy toting by little fingers. Deciding which part of the animal should be eaten first-the trunk of the elephant or the tail of a lion-depended on how hungry one was. Savor each and every one or simply gobble them down as fast as possible.

My next cookie memory would be the ever famous, possibly all-time favorite, the chocolate chip cookie. There is nothing better than to bite into a round circle of baked dough sprinkled with gooey melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. A chocolate chip cookie can dry tears, heal broken hearts, mend scraped knees and elbows and solve sibling arguments. Most of the problems in the world could likely be solved by a properly baked, right out of the oven, chocolate chip cookie. The power of a cookie is underestimated.

I will attempt in the next 365 days to prepare and comment on a year’s worth of different cookies-one for each day. My goal is to share with others my extreme love of cookies-baking them and especially eating them! Feel free to send me your favorite recipe, your earliest cookie memories, or how cookies may have influenced your life. Cookies Rule!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cookie Recipe #124 - Caramel Almond Tiger Cookies

A crunchy almond cookie bottom and top with a caramel filling and glaze make these cookies irrestible.

Ingredients: 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1 cup (2 sticks)butter, softened, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.
Filling: 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons water, 1/3 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons butter, pinch of salt.

Instructions: Process the almonds and 1/4 cup of the flour in food processor until almonds are finely ground. Transfer to medium bowl and stir in the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour, the cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light in texture, about 2 minutes. Beat in the almond extract. At low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm enough to handle (or up to 2 days).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to an 1/8 inch thickness with floured rolling pin. Cut out cookies with a floured 1 1/2 inch fluted round cookie cutter. Out of half of these rounds cut a center using a 3/4 inch round cutter (I used a small melon baller). Transfer the cookies to an ungreased baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Bake cookies 10-12 minutes, or until just barely beginning to color at the edges. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

As cookies cool, prepare filling as follows: In a small heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and water and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and cook, without stirring and occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until the syrup caramelizes and turns a golden amber color, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the heavy cream (the mixture will bubble up), stirring until smooth. Stir in the butter and salt until the butter is melted. Let the caramel filling cool for 20 minutes, or until it has thickened enough to spread.

To assemble the cookies: line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or waxed paper. Spread a scant teaspoon of the caramel filling over the bottom of each whole cookie. Top each with a cut-out cookie, and place the filled cookies on the lined sheet. Place the saucepan of caramel over low heat and heat, stirring constantly, until it is thin enough to drizzle. Using a spoon, lightly drizzle the tops of the cookies with parallel lines of caramel.

Makes about 3 dozen sandwiches.

"The Good Cookie" by Tish Boyle, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2002.

Cookies Rule!!!

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