The holidays are my favourite time of year for many, many reasons (crackling fires, hot chocolate, snow falling, fairy lights, busy shopping malls and family gatherings to name a few) but it’s also the only time of year that it’s practically criminal not to bake at least ONE thing.
I have a few recipes that I only tend to make in the winter because they’re a bit too decadent for summer eating. Things like butter tarts, Five Star bars , sugar cookies and shortbread are some of my favourites to make because it really kickstarts the holiday spirit. And I’m sure I’m not alone when I say as you get older, it seems to get harder to get into the Christmas spirit (like when you realize just how expensive this holiday is!)
I thought I’d kick December off with a quirky little recipe that was born out of a need to bake something for my best friend’s birthday brunch, but a lack of motivation to go to the grocery store for any ingredients. My challenge: I only had 1 cup of butter, no brown sugar, and a request from my best friend for something “gooey and chocolatey”. Basically I had to make something good on the first try or else I was out of ingredients!
I’ve had a bar of Cadbury’s “Royal Dark” chocolate for a few weeks now and I’d been waiting for a good recipe to use it in. Searching through my baking cupboard for ingredients, I also found a bag of roasted almonds, and decided that I’d try substituting coconut sugar for brown sugar in the recipe to add a little depth to the cookie. (I once saw a Youtube video of Gordon Ramsay making recipes out of random ingredients: stuff like oysters, peanut butter and cheetos. I felt like this was my Gordon Ramsay challenge.)
Luckily, all of the ingredients worked really well together. Straight out of the oven these cookies were fluffy, super chocolatey, and slightly crunchy from the roasted almonds. I thought dark chocolate almond was a pretty elegant combo – dare I say, this is something you could bring to a hipster potluck and not feel out of place among the prosciutto melon balls and flan (haha!).
If I made them again I think they’d be even better with brown sugar and a decent amount of time left to chill in the fridge. We all know it’s a challenge to make time to chill things (especially during the holidays!) but I’m going to write the recipe as I made it along with suggestions for substitutions in case you want to make these with more “normal” ingredients.
1 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (you can also use 1 cup packed brown sugar and 1 cup granulated)
2 tsp. Mexican vanilla extract (you can also use regular vanilla extract, but the Mexican version is supposedly the best in the world…or so says my Mother-in-Law)
2 tsp warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour (you can use whole wheat flour for a heartier, nuttier cookie)
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt (not too much because you’re also using salted butter)
1 – 1 1/4 cups roasted almonds, chopped or sliced
1 Cadbury Special “Royal Dark” chocolate bar, chopped into chunks
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Celsius.
- Cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy – the coconut sugar will make the mixture a little dry, so just keep blending these together until everything is light and creamy.
- Add in eggs, vanilla and warm water. Mix well.
- Sift flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Add to butter mixture and mix until just blended.
- With a spoon, gently stir in your chopped almonds, chocolate bar and chocolate chips. Take approx. 1 tbsp of the dough and roll into balls.
- Place onto a lined or non-stick cookie sheet about 1 inch apart and bake for 11-13 minutes.
- Let cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes then transfer to wire cooling rack to firm up.
(Update: brought these to the birthday brunch and they went down really well! Also took them to my parents’ house for a pre-Christmas family gathering and my Dad asked to keep the leftovers for his work lunches. Thanks Dad! High praise indeed!)