Ground almonds are used extensively in Irish baking. Basic almond cookie dough cut into heart shapes, then sandwiched with raspberry jam and decorated with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar are a perfect treat for Valentine’s Day.
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 and 1/4 cup confectioners sugar (1/4 cup for decorating )
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
I like to use 1 egg and milk to bind this dough, but if you prefer you can use two eggs and no milk for a softer cookie.
Ground almonds are not always readily available in American stores. Sold as almond meal, it is often only found in the specialty or organic aisles of the grocery store. I find it easier to make my own using a coffee grinder. I add slivered almonds to the grinder 1/3 of a cup at a time.
Pulse it for about 20 seconds to produce a finely ground meal.
I sift it to remove any little almond pieces that may have missed the grinder’s blades. A little under a cup of slivered almonds produces 1 cup of ground almond meal.
To make the cookie dough cream two sticks of butter together with 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar as we call it in Ireland.
When the butter and sugar are light and fluffy add one teaspoon of almond essence. Feel free to add an additional teaspoon if you really like the flavor of almonds.
Add one egg, mixing it into the butter and sugar mixture.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl with the ground almonds. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
Add the flour and almond mixture in thirds with one tablespoon of milk at a time. Blend together on a slow speed to form a dough. If you are using two eggs for a softer cookie, omit the milk.
A firm dough starts to form after mixing in the last third of the dry ingredients.
Use your fingers to form a round dough ball. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or parchment paper and place it in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours. Cookie dough is best handled and rolled when cold.
When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Dust a flat surface for rolling with confectioners’ sugar. I like to use sugar rather than flour, since too much flour makes the cookie dough too dry. I cut the dough ball in two, then rewrap the other half and put it back in the refrigerator to keep it cold, while I get to rolling and cutting.
Roll the dough to about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thickness. Using a heart shape cookie cutter cut out the shapes. My cookie cutter is 3 inches across at its widest point. This cookie dough yields between 36 to 44 heart shapes (18 t0 22 sandwiches) depending upon the thickness of your dough.
Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. Transfer to a wire tray to cool.
While the cookies are still slightly warm, spread some seedless raspberry jam on the bottom of one half of the sandwich. Squeeze two hearts together with the bottom sides facing in. It is easier to spread the jam if the cookies are still slightly warm. Seedless jam works best.
Cool the cookies completely, then place them back on a baking sheet to sprinkle with sifted confectioners’ sugar.
A light snowy dusting makes them look ever so pretty.
These jammy sandwiches are perfect for afternoon tea, or a cup of coffee.
Happy Valentine’s Day and enjoy!
Slan agus beannacht leat!
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom