I won’t go getting all sentimental on you (yes I will), but let me just say this; you are all fantastic. Like, you make me sort of forget how to write properly, I’m that blown away. I like you all so much, and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to say than you. So, I’m going to share one of my absolute favorite cookie recipes and pin a little thank you/love note to it.
I’ve been writing this blog for a little over half a year now, and in that time, a few things have struck me.
I am continually stunned at the unbelievable generosity, encouraging nature, and well, just plain kindness of the online food community. Bloggers, non-bloggers, food sites, people who just love food and/or food blogs, all of you. I was a little intimidated getting in to this to begin with; I simply didn’t know if what I wanted to bake and write about would be interesting to anyone. A part of me hoped people would find my blog, and a part of me sort of hoped no one would find me because then could just happily make things and write without fear of judgement. So I did nothing, like went out of my way to do nothing to get noticed. I just thought I’d bake and write and then worry about getting readers after I had a few recipes up. Then, disaster struck: Amy at Angry Chicken linked to my pretzel shortbread bars and whoops: all the sudden I had readers. Like, not just my mother; actual readers. When I saw people were actually (gasp!) looking at what I was doing, a whole new feeling of anxiety took over.
But then: people liked my little world over here. like, kind of really liked it. And I felt much better, and I kept doing what I know how to do; write about things that cross my mind, and bake things I want to eat. And you people just kept on looking, and reading, and sending me little messages. And I started to feel much less worried and much more excited, like really excited, to find new things to share with you.
Less than six months after what I refer to as “The Angry Chicken Incident,” I enter that insane Pi Day Pie Challenge – and won (what is wrong with you people?) – with the Apple Pi Pie, and what happens, but I get even more friends out of it. And you won’t believe me, but that’s more worth it to me than anything. I did that for fun. I do this for fun. And to have all of you around? Well, that’s just the most fun.
And now I just feel like we’re friends, all of us. My blog friend Jen over at Juanita’s Cocina put it perfectly when she said that it gets to a point where we feel like we “know” our blog friends and readers. I think the best writers leave you pieces of themselves in their writing, no matter what the subject matter is. Even if it’s about chocolate pretzels or seven-layer bars, you can hear who that person is in their thoughts. I’d like to think you hear a little bit of me underneath all that yakking about baked goods I do so often. Honestly, I can’t believe you listen. You must be the most patient group of people on the earth.
But i love you for it. I hope I continue to amuse you with food and thoughts and the odd story here and there. Starting this blog has been one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I don’t know how to say thank you for everything. So thank you for everything. And I will give you one of my favorite all-season cookie recipe as a little gift. I hope you like it.
These are almond macaroons. They are divine. You can make them any time of year and take them to parties or just to coffee with a friend, and they will squeal with delight and wonder where you got those gorgeous, gem-like cookies. And you will say you made them, and they will be delighted. And they should be, because you just made them an awesome present.
I like these for several reasons. First, and most obviously, they’re beautiful. they shimmer like stars and are all crackly and inviting, just like a perfect cookie should be. They are moist, they are not too sweet, but they are decadent, showy little things. And they lie, because the dough takes almost no time to make. You need a food processor and about 10 minutes’ worth of time. They’re not sticky if you wet your hands, so rolling them into balls is a breeze, and you can make them as big or small as you’d like. I make mine on the small side – i like getting more out of a dough – but larger is fine too. I also prefer the jam-to-macaroon ratio on the smallish ones, too.
Second, I like these because they’re completely customizable. Use any jam or jelly you’d like. i used cherry and apricot for these, straining out the fruit pieces for a smooth finish. If you go for a raspberry or something along those lines, try to find a seedless variety to save yourself the work. I’ve made these maybe a dozen times or so, and I’ve used everything from blueberry jam, to a lovely strawberry/rhubarb (which was wonderful), to peach in the summer. For Christmas, I’ve used apple jelly, added the smallest bit of green color, and then used any red jam and done a red and green combination. If you want them even more sparkly, roll them in sanding sugar when they’re still in ball form.
I know it’s not enough, really, but this is my way of saying thank you. For reading, for chatting, for writing things I love to read in return, for taking photos I drool over, for sharing recipes and stories with me, for making me laugh, for making me think, for hanging out in my little corner of the internet.
You. Are. The best. I’ll resist the urge to break into song.
Adapted from a recipe found on Martha Stewart’s website.
- 3 cups sliced blanched almonds
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup apricot, cherry, blackberry, or any other jam you wish (remember to strain out the fruit bits if you want a smooth center)
Note: You could use almond flour instead of almonds and get away with it, but your results won’t be exactly the same. Using almonds and then grinding them imparts a moistness into the cookie you won’t find by using pre-ground almonds. It’s part of these little cookies’ charm, the slight chewy dampness, so please, use the blanched almonds and let your processor do the work for you.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a food processor, finely grind almonds, sugar, and salt. Add egg whites and vanilla; pulse until a ball forms.
With wet hands, shape pieces of dough into little balls (dough will be very sticky) anywhere from 3/4 inch to 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Place on prepared baking sheet, 1 inch apart. Use moist finger to make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Bake until crackly and light golden, 15 to 17 minutes.
Cool 5 minutes; transfer to a rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, warm jam over low heat or in microwave in 10 to 15-second intervals until slightly liquefied, stirring frequently. It’s ready when it’s melty and easy to spoon. using a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, strain the fruit bits from the jam. If it’s too hot or too thinned-out, let cool slightly before spooning into your cookies. Spoon jam filling into each cookie. Let set, about 15 minutes.
A word about storage/transportation: the only drawback is that these really shouldn’t be stacked upon each other. Your jam runs the risk of getting smudged. I’d keep these, single-layer, in an airtight container with a lid that won’t touch the cookie tops. Transportation, same thing. In a pinch, I’ve put a sheet of wax paper over the tops (only on the day after baking, when the jam has set more firmly) and then wrapped them somewhat loosely in plastic wrap.