I'll be frank with you. This latest foray into the kitchen didn't go as well as I'd hoped. Call this an excuse if you will, but things went downhill after my mom lectured me at the outset. After 20-some years I should be immune to her nagging and unintentional insults, but she really struck a nerve last night. In short, she accused me of sabotaging the health of my coworkers by bringing them my sweets.
Many I know would've brushed this off and kept going on their merry. And perhaps I could've if I weren't in fact passionate about improving the eating habits of Americans. The thing is, my eventual goal is to become a dietitian. Mom's accusation dug deep because I'd secretly feared as much. And while I don't have all the answers yet, I have figured out at least 3 things I believe:
- ...that indulgences can be part of a healthy diet. While I try to cut fat and sugar where I can do so without sacrificing taste, a small portion of something rich often more effectively satisfies a craving than a "lightened" ghost of the original.
- ...that mindless overeating of low quality food is a source of many diet problems in the US. By exposing others to freshly-made, preservative-free treats made with high quality ingredients, I hope I'm helping to cultivate an attentiveness to and appreciation of real good food (I know, this may be a bit too optimistic ^_^).
- ...that the joy of tasting something wonderful is best when shared. Food is so much more than calorie or antioxidant counts. It's an integral part of our cultures, our communities, our memories, ourselves.
Thanks for hearing me out. Now let's finally talk cookies! Unfortunately the fight left me frazzled and apparently unable to follow instructions. The margarine got too warm, my cookies spread too much, and were slightly greasy (what they're supposed to look like). But please don't let this discourage you from trying the recipe. The flavor of these cookies is excellent. Benefiting from a classic combination of fragrant almond paste and sweet and buttery pine nuts (or pignoli) (another of the great sample goodies I received from Sam at Oh! Nuts). Even with my mistakes, these were a hit with my coworkers and my spirits were lifted from seeing their smiles.
TEXTURE: 3/5 (probably due to my error not the recipe)
EASE OF PREPARATION: 3.5/5
OVERALL: 3.5/5 (same as above)
Pignoli Almond Cookies [Printable Recipe]
Reproduced with permission from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar
via the authors' blog with my comments/changes in brackets
Makes 2 dozen cookies
XIAOLU'S NOTE: Be careful not to let the margarine get too warm (including not handling the dough too much!
7 ounces almond paste, sliced into 1 inch cubes (not marzipan)
A pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, softened [I used Earth Balance]
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 to 3 tablespoons almond milk for dipping [I used soymilk]
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a medium sized baking sheet with parchment paper.
Pulse almond paste, salt, baking powder and 1/3 cup sugar in a food processor until mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute.
In a large bowl cream together margarine and remaining 1/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add almond paste mixture and almond extract and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Sift in flour and beat until a slightly crumbly yet soft dough forms. Dough should form a soft mass when pressed together.
Pour pine nuts into a shallow bowl and pour 2 Tablespoons of almond milk into a small saucer. For each cookie, roll 1 tablespoon of dough in palms to form into a ball, dip one end in almond milk and press moistened end into pine nuts. If necessary press pine nuts into surface of ball. Place dough balls, pine nut side up, on baking sheet at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 14 minutes until cookies have puffed and spread a little, and nuts are are just slightly toasted. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes to firm up before carefully transferring to cooling rack. Store in a tightly covered container.
MORSELS: These cookies are super-soft right out of the oven, so be sure to allow them a full 5 minutes to firm up on the cookie sheet before transferring to racks to complete cooling.
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