This was my first year participating in The Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap. I was excited to take part in this fun community building activity, and all for a great cause. Who could ask for more?! This activity raised more than $13,700 for Cookies For Kids Cancer!
The organization and communication was spotless. Just enough emails, just enough communication to keep it exciting, but not over whelming.
I got my 3 matches and went on their blogs to get to know them better. 2 of them I had already been on their blogs, 1 I was following so that was fun. They had great ideas and recipes and I found myself spending quiet a long time on their websites and blogs.
Then came the hard part of deciding what to bake. I had a couple of ideas but kept changing my mind as time passed. Finally I went for a new cookie that I had just tried to make, adjusted, and fallen in love with. The Almond Caramel Cookie. I had just received a book from a friend by mail a couple of weeks before Inside The Jewish Bakery, and found it really interesting. In that book I found the Lace Cookies that I played around with and the final cookie was better described as Almond Caramel cookie.
I made it a couple of times before making the batch for the swap, but they were eaten too fast and I never had enough. Finally, I decided to bake the cookies late at night when everyone was asleep….
I decided to make a combination of 1 layer cookies, and some filled cookies. I needed a total of 36 cookies (a dozen for each blogger) and decided to send 4 plain and 8 filled. Some with white chocolate, some with milk truffle and some with chocolate mint. This meant that I needed a total of 60 cookies. Busy night was ahead of me.
I made a double batch of the cookie dough and started.
The recipe for these truly wonderful cookies is:
2.5 cups Almonds (or other nuts you like – Hazelnuts is wonderful as well).
1 cup brown sugar
70 gram (2.5 oz or 3/4 cups) Unsalted butter
3-4 tbsp. honey
1/4 + 1 tbsp. cup water
1/2 cup All purpose flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
How to prepare the dough:
First turn on the oven to 190C/375F.
I like to lightly roast the almonds (or hazelnuts) on a dry pan before I grind them. It adds a depth of flavor to the cookies. Then you need to grind the almonds to a fine texture.
In a saucepan combine sugar, butter, honey and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir continuously. Add the flour, nuts and cinnamon and stir well until you get a thick paste. To get a caramel consistency, you need to let it all boil for more than 60 seconds while constantly stirring.
Turn off the heat and let cool but this paste must be pipped or spooned while still hot. Once it cools it is very hard to work with.
I tried pipping the cookies but soon found that using 2 spoons is easier and faster.
Arrange at least 3-4 trays and place baking paper on them.
With 2 spoons spread cookies on the baking paper leaving a lot of room in between as these cookies spread out a lot. Pat the dough down a bit to get thin lace like cookies.
Bake for 5-6 minutes only. As soon as they are light brown, take out of the oven. They burn fast. Once out of the oven, take the baking sheets with the cookies on them, off the baking trays and leave to cool on a table or cool surface. Leaving them on the hot baking trays will keep them baking.
Once the cookies are cold they harden you can take them off the baking paper, and only then can they be filled with chocolate.
I melted white chocolate, milk truffle and chocolate mint and filled 48 cookies (total of 24 double layered cookies).
Then the cookies were wrapped, boxed and shipped to the Food Bloggers. All that was left was to enjoy packages and look forward to feedback from the recipients…..
For inspiration visit the wonderful bloggers I sent cookies to:
I’m already looking forward to next year