Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Single cup of cocoa seeks level-headed mate for an all-consuming adventure

I snagged a box of mint hot chocolate from Aldi last week. I drink a cup most every day. I've wanted a cookie to go with it. I hate biscotti because it's too hard to seem edible (hardly edible?) if you don't dip it in your drink. And if you DO dip, it becomes the consistency of the cereal you find still sitting in its milk when you clear the table for lunch. Yuck. So I've been looking for something to go with my hot chocolate.

I'd been feeling pretty inspired by a picture of some mint chocolate cookies I saw online. I tried my hand at those, and I'm eating them these days, but they aren't the best. I make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world (I've been told) and I used that basic recipe (but I'm not telling you what it is) plus Andes baking chunks and green food coloring. It didn't turn out so well -- mostly because it's so difficult to tell when something so green starts to "brown," because if it actually does, it's too late.

I think it's time I ventured out from chocolate cookies. I have a problem in that, when I think I've found the best of something, I stop trying other things. My motto the last few years has been, "Why bother with a cookie if it doesn't have chocolate in it?" But I am getting older and have learned that there is such a thing as "too sweet" or "too much sweet" and hot chocolate plus chocolate cookies is just too much.

We happened upon these promising cookies on the Better Homes and Gardens website. I used their chocolate chip cookie recipe as a guideline for my own, so I figured it was a good place to start.
(This is their picture.)

This is their ingredient list.
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (their site has a typo here, but I've fixed it for ya here.)
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds, chopped
I was TOTALLY pumped that I had (accidentally) purchased all the needed ingredients from Aldi! That's right. You can get everything you need to make these cookies right now at Aldi. That gives this recipe an extra 100 points from me. And it gives Aldi an extra 100 points, too.

We set to work with Pat and Israel mixing the dough. About the time I took the first picture of the process, I realized we had to toast the almond slivers. No problem. We opted for the stove-top method, since the kids and I prefer to be able to observe the toasting process rather than just trusting it to the oven. It worked just fine with some almonds, a pan, and some heat. (And a watchful, very careful, very supervised 3 year old. He's going to be a natural.)

We were having fun in the kitchen. These cookies are very hands-on. Eden was inspired to go make her own "cookies" in her little kitchen area, too. Bonus.

We came to the step of rolling the dough into a snake and I had been pretty excited about letting the Iz help out with this step, but the dough didn't want to stay together as well as playdough might, so it ended up being primarily an adult job. The next step said to roll the dough in the almond slices. It didn't stick as easily as one might hope, but Israel gave a valiant effort in getting as many pieces on each roll as possible.

Eden didn't mind not being able to help with this part after we gave her the first taste-test. She gave her lick of approval to the dough. This was as close as we got to eating cookies this night, though, because the rolls have to chill for 6 hours.

But our dough chilled out for something like 46 hours, because we didn't have time to get back to the cookies until 2 days later. It was all good, though. The rolls were easy to slice with our chef's knife. We also tried our cheese slicer for uniformity, but it was more difficult and we ditched it.

The recipe said to bake the cookies on parchment paper. We don't have parchment paper. I did some online research to see about a substitute for parchment paper, but basically everything said there are no good substitutes for it. One site said something about how back in the day people used to use cooking spray or butter and flour to prevent sticking, so maybe that would work. Wow. I had no idea I'd been living in the dark ages! So I used my Aldi cooking spray, even though other sites had pointed out that this method often encourages cookies to spread. Not about to go out in the cold looking for hoity-toity parchment, we gambled it. I was afraid because the recipe said to put the cookies an inch apart. And I was fearful they would really spread and lose that cool, almond-crusted edge in the picture.

So, after Israel put them on the baking sheet, I re- put them on the baking sheet, far apart and atop a bed of cooking spray. I took a deep breath and put them in the 375 degree oven.

And they were fine! They didn't spread at all. They didn't look substantially different coming out of the oven than they did going in. They just got a little brown on the bottom. But that's pretty. They are pretty good little cookies, too! A brief description:

(This is my picture.)

Pat says they are kind of like sugar cookies, but, "You know how sugar cookies can get all hard sometimes and not taste much? I don't know what it is, but something about these makes them better than that." I say it's the cream cheese. It's a nice flavor in these cookies. The almond flavor is good, too, though I think I might go a little stronger on it next time. They are not too sweet, but my kids like them. They are not gooey at all, but have a nice texture. Pat says they're like shortbread. I say the way they break reminds me of pudding pops. Pat says they're not just dry, but there's also a sort of chewy element to them. I say I would definitely serve these to guests and/or put them in my goody bags for neighbors this year. And maybe I'll attach a bag of cocoa mix, because they go together just perfectly!

Selling points:
- kids are entertained making them
- prep time is 30 minutes (Okay, more if you have helpers...)
- they have a cool crust around them
- they're better than sugar cookies
- you don't have to drive all around town looking for the ingredients
- they're simple to make
- they're a perfect companion for warm beverages


  1. I love how much thought you McCrory's put into your endeavors! These look beautiful and sound delicious! I will take this opportunity to invite you and your cookies over for hot chocolate ;)

    p.s. - you'll pry my parchment paper from my cold dead hands :) !

  2. These are lovely! And they look delicious, perfect for dipping! Well done, guys! (And I agree with Sara re. the parchment paper-- it has allowed me to get away with not washing cookie sheets. Win/win.)

  3. I enjoyed your story and photos. The cookies look tasty and rather sophisticated.

  4. Thanks! They're on day 3 and they continue to be really good -- not stale. They are alright to dunk, but not very absorbent. They are perfect with cocoa. (I've given them plenty of practice) and they have been well-liked by the friends who have tried them so far.

  5. Wow, those cookies look great. Almondy delicious.