Pains D'Amande - ButterYum
When I read about these cookies on David Lebovitz's blog, they were described as "the best tea cookies in the world" and I knew I had to try them. Let me tell you, they do not disappoint! They're extremely thin, extremely crisp, and extremely addictive! I have a standing order from 2 sisters, a brother, and my mother for more, more, more!!
The cookie dough is a cinch to make, but it has to chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours to firm up enough to slice into papery thin planks. As skilled as I am with a sharp knife, I couldn't cut the dough as thin as I wanted, but a mandoline made pretty easy work of it. If you're lucky enough to own an electric meat slicer, all the better.
Pains D'Amande - Very Thin French Almond Cookies
makes 100-120 paper thin cookies
an adaptation of a Flo Braker recipe, via David Lebovitz
113g unsalted butter (4 ounces)
75g water (1/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch or two of salt
280g Hawaiian raw sugar - see note below
(1 1/3 cups) 85g sliced almonds, not slivered (1 cup or 3 ounces)
325g all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside.
In a medium heavy bottomed, preferably non-stick, saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, water, cinnamon, and salt until butter is completely melted without allowing the mixture to boil.
Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is not quite completely dissolved (not letting the sugar melt completely adds wonderful texture); again, don't let the mixture boil.
Using a silicone spatula, stir in the sliced almonds and remove from the heat.
Stir in flour/baking soda mixture and stir until combined.
Pack dough into a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch silicone loaf pan (or a glass or metal cake pan lined with plastic wrap).
Chill for at least 4-6 hours until very firm.
Place oven rack in lower third and preheat oven to 325F.
Remove brick of cookie dough from loaf pan and slice cookies as thin as you can get them using a serrated knife, mandoline, or electric meat slicer (1/16-inch thick).
Place cookies on cookie sheet pan leaving about 1/4-inch between each cookie.
Bake, one sheet at a time, for 8 minutes, remove from oven and carefully turn cookies over, return to the oven and bake for another 4 minutes until they're crisp and honey colored.
Remove sheet pan from oven and immediately transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.
Store cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 10 days.
I've made these cookies quite a few times now. Here are some helpful suggestions I've learned along the way.
These cookies puff a bit when baked. If you find you cannot slice the dough paper thin, don't allow them to bake quite as long, so they stay a little chewy rather than getting too crisp (thick, crisp planks are difficult to eat and can injure the roof of your mouth - trust me, I know!).
The dough can be made in advance, wrapped well in several layers of plastic wrap, and stored in the freezer for later use. Cookies can be sliced and baked directly out of the freezer.
Don't throw away the crumbled bits of dough that accumulate as you slice the cookies - just bake them off and enjoy as a tasty nibble, or toss them with a few mini chocolate chips and sprinkle over ice cream (really, really, really good).
When unmolding, I find a flexible silicone loaf pan is very easy to peel away from a hard brick of chilled dough. If you only have a metal loaf pan, be sure to line it with plastic wrap before pressing the cookie dough into it. And if you have trouble coaxing the chilled dough out of the metal pan, wrap a warm towel around the base for a few minutes.
This recipe is available on several sites with differing sugar amounts listed - some say 280g of sugar, some say 300g. I made made both and couldn't tell a difference so I save a few calories by going with 280g.
Hawaiian Raw Sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw) is sold in 2-pound bags at most grocery stores. Turbinado or Demerara sugars may be substituted. David prefers to bake these cookies on parchment, but I got great results using a silicone Silpat liner. I baked batches on both surfaces and couldn't tell a difference between the two.
Flo Braker's original recipe doesn't call for salt, but I always add a pinch to sweet things. Also, I made a batch with 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and that was very good.
Stir in almonds.
Add flour mixture.
Stir, stir, stir.
Press into loaf pan.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill.
Unmold and slice very, very thin.