I worked in the pastry kitchen of a 5-star hotel one summer and the wastage I witnessed was astonishing. Things had to be precise, brownies had to be 5 by 5 and if that slab of brownies was 29cm in length, well that 4cm strip at the end was binned. If you unintentionally sliced it at an angle so it wasn’t perfectly square, it was binned. Leftovers, binned. Look at my mishaped cookies below, they would’ve been binned.
I did learn loads from that experience but that was the most memorable part. That and the dreadful subway journeys home. See, people use the phrase “packed like sardines” too lightly. “Oh we were packed like sardines in that bus”, no you were not, you priveliged person from a developed country. Packed like sardines is going into the Chinese subway, pressed up against the glass doors, and coming out wet in other people’s sweat.
On a more appetizing note, let’s talk about these cookies. I made them for a colleague’s birthday, and they’re wonderfully delicate, lightly spiced, crisp and buttery. The original recipe calls for walnuts instead of almonds and doesn’t include allspice but I love allspice and I had an abundance of almonds, so here we go.
Also, the originally recipe makes 8 dozen cookies. I never know why recipes call for that many cookies, are you baking for a class of ravenous children? Are you freezing half of it as comfort snacks when the spoon has hit the bottom of the ice cream tub?
Four dozen cookies is still a sh*tload.
Recipe adapted from Patisserie
Makes 4 dozen cookies
60g(1/2 cup) ground almond
150g(1 1/2 cups) plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
60g(1/3 cup) sugar
125g(1 stick) butter, diced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 pinch salt
+1 egg yolk for egg wash
100g dark chocolate
30g(1/4 cup) sliced almonds
In a large bowl mix together the ground almonds, flour, flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Rub everything together with your fingertips until the mixture forms fine crumbs.
Make a well in the middle and add the egg and the egg yolk.
Knead just until dough is smooth. Form into a ball, flatten and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for at least one hour.
Beat the egg yolk up in a cup.
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Roll the dough into a flat sheet of abut 4mm thick. Cut into 3cm diamon shapes, place them on the baking tray, about 1cm apart. Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg glaze.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes until lightly broaned and leave the cookies to cool.
Toast the almonds in the oven at 180C until lightly browned.
For the coating
Finely chop the chocolate and let it melt over a double boiler (place in a bowl and set over a saucepan fit with 2.5cm of simmering water over low heat, making sure your bowl doesn’t touch the water). Let the chocolate melt and stir until smooth.
Dip one half of each cookie in the chocolate and transfer to the parchment paper, and place a couple of almond slices in the middle.