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Food Crisp, Chewy Almond Butter Cookies in 3 Ingredients

17:45  29 september  2020
17:45  29 september  2020 Source:   food52.com

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A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else—flavor, creativity, wow factor. Psst: We don't count water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (specifically, 1/2 cup or less of olive oil, vegetable oil, and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. Today, we’re treating ourselves to a cookie or three.

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The default definition of flour is “finely milled wheat,” yet over the years, the word has stretched its arms to embrace not just other grains, but other ingredients altogether. These days, you can find flour from rye, spelt, teff, millet, buckwheat, tapioca, rice, chickpeas, coconuts, even coffee.

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And just about every nut under the sun. Nuts.com—go figure—has a whole section of nut flours. Think: almond, peanut, hazelnut, cashew, macadamia, pistachio. These are gluten-free, sure, but they’re also flavorful to the nines: nutty, bittersweet, and delightfully buttery.

Which brings me to nut butters. Take, for instance, almond butter: At its most basic, this has the same ingredient list as almond flour—almonds. The only difference is, flour gets processed until a crumbly meal forms, while butter takes things a step further to a creamy, spreadable paste.

So it makes sense, then, that if a nut flour can act like, well, flour, that a nut butter can too. In The Cooks’ Illustrated Baking Book, the editors note that peanut butter “contains approximately 20 percent carbohydrates and 25 percent protein, components that absorb moisture and harden into a stable network in the heat of the oven.” Similarly, as biochemist and cookbook author Shirley O. Corriher explains in BakeWise: “The ground nut meal in the peanut butter provides the ‘flour’ and flavor.”

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The recipe she’s talking about is E-Z Delicious Peanut Butter Cookies, inspired by Susan G. Purdy’s Impossible Peanut Butter Cookies in The Family Baker. Impossible because, they only need three ingredients: peanut butter, sugar, and an egg. As in, no flour-flour, no butter-butter, no baking soda, no baking powder. You might recognize a similarly minimalist approach from the Geniuses behind Ovenly Bakery.

In Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from New York's Most Creative Bakery, Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga write, “While the all-natural stuff works just fine for this cookie, Skippy is our peanut butter brand of choice for this recipe as we’ve found the dough retains its shape best with it.” But if you ask me, the all-natural stuff works better than just fine—it works wonders.

The obvious difference between unsweetened and sweetened peanut butter is sugar, which wears many hats in baking, from adding sweetness, to absorbing water, to ensuring crispness. The other difference: Unsweetened peanut butter is usually not homogenized (case in point, that oily layer on the top of a freshly opened jar), while sweetened peanut butter is as silky-smooth as frosting. And while I wouldn’t recommend swapping willy-nilly (some recipes hinge on the sweetened sort), in this case, it’s whatever you like best.

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For flourless cookies, I prefer unsweetened nut butter for a couple reasons. It yields a less sweet, more nuanced dessert. And it opens up a universe of unsweetened nut and seed butters. Like sunflower, sesame, cashew, hazelnut, and, in this week’s Big Little Recipe, almond.

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Roasty, toasty, with a thick-sweater coziness, almond butter was born to be cookie-ed. Creamy or crunchy is totally your pick—the former yields something decidedly marzipan-esque, while the latter has nubby granola texture. Same with sugar—soft-spoken granulated lets the almond butter sing a little more loudy, while light or dark brown add sultrier caramel-toffee notes. I prefer the former, my husband prefers the latter. Once you have your own favorite, let me know in the comments so I can tell my husband he’s wrong.

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In BakeWise, Shirley adds English toffee bits. In Ovenly, Erin and Agatha call in vanilla extract, plus a crunch of flaky salt on top. Honorary Big Little Ingredient that it is, salt is a must in my book—it talks down the sugar and amps up the almond butter, which is to say, it makes everything taste better. If you don’t have flaky salt on hand, stir in a pinch of kosher salt to the dough instead. Or skip it altogether.

When it comes to mix-ins and extracts, you could add either of the above, or go rogue with chopped chocolate or almond extract or whatever happens to be in your pantry right now. But, at least for the first batch, resist the urge. These crispy-edged, fudgy-centered, Netflix-ready cookies are pretty much perfect, exactly as they are.

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Salted Almond Butter Cookies

By Emma Laperruque

  • 1 cup (256 grams) unsweetened almond butter
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • Flaky salt (optional)

View Full Recipe

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