Variety Flour Thursday: Almond Meltaways (Sort Of)
June 9, 2011
Almost every Thursday, for some time now, I’ve been posting recipes using different flours or flour alternatives, like almond meal, and calling it “Variety Flour Thursday” (the name isn’t wholly necessary, but I liked that it made my “variety flour” adventures sound more official). It started as a result of my wanting to branch out of the all-purpose flour bubble more often, to experiment with different flavors, textures and make me feel better about baking so much, health-wise. Up until this point, I’ve only made recipes either already featuring different flour or recipes that according to my research and prior experience I knew would turn out well using something other than all-purpose flour. There haven’t really been any shots in the dark, where I just did a crazy substitution to see what would happen and that thought made me a little sad, sad because I go through the world pretending to know what happens when I do certain things or make certain decisions or what happens when you either let someone go or welcome someone into your life. Sometimes you just don’t know how something you do will affect the world around you because there are always a million things you’ve never thought about and a million things that we can’t know ahead of time. You may have a good idea of an outcome, but life tends to throw things your way that never would have figured in your radar.
This is one of the ways, still in a relatively controlled environment, that I can let go and make crazy decisions just to see what happens. Luckily I’m armed with a little bit of experience, but it always ends up that the more you know, the more you become aware of how much you don’t know. I wanted to make some meltaway cookies. I have a TON of whole wheat flour in the pantry (due to an extremely generous room mate). Could whole wheat flour work in a meltaway, or would it completely destroy the idea of having a light cookie that simply, like its name implies, melts in your mouth? I took the plunge and substituted the entire amount of whole wheat flour for all-purpose, keeping the amount of almond meal in tact. Since whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid than all-purpose, I had to add about 2 tablespoons milk to the batter in order for it to come together. All well and good. I baked the cookies and found the bottoms browned more than usual for a meltaway, but that might be due to old, non-stick pans instead of my choice flour. The flavor? Meh. The cookies, when you substitute whole wheat flour, take on more of a thumbprint/shortbread texture, ceasing to be light and airy. Delicious, certainly, but not a meltaway.
I feel good, even though I didn’t get the end result that I wanted or expected, for branching out and taking a chance to see what happened. You learn by doing, right? All that being said, I wonder if using whole wheat pastry flour would give you the expected airiness of a meltaway? An adventure for another time. Now I know, for sure, from personal experience, that whole wheat flour is not what you should use for a meltaway. Included in this post is the original recipe from the blog, A Cup of Freck. I’d suggest following directions and using all-purpose!
(Recipe adapted from A cup of freck)
Yields 30 cookies using a cookie scoop
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups almond meal, or almonds ground in a food processor
3 tablespoons amaretto liquor OR 1 teaspoon almond extract
Powdered sugar for rolling cookies (at least one cup)
1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar.
2. Add salt, flour, and almond meal to butter mixture and stir until dough comes together.
3. Stir in almond extract.
4. Chill dough in fridge for one hour. During chill time, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a cookie sheet (if not using a non-stick pan).
5. Either using a cookie scoop or by hand, form tablespoon-size balls of dough and place on prepared or non-stick cookie sheet. The cookies will not spread much, so they can be placed as little as an inch apart.
6. Bake in preheated for 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes, until cool enough to handle, and roll in powdered sugar then place on cooling rack. Once cookies are cool, roll again in powdered sugar.
Store cookies covered at room temperature up to 3 days.