Holiday Almond Cookies

Holiday Almond Cookies with lemon from GF Canteen

Tasty no-flour, no-dairy, Almond Cookie bites make nice holiday gifts whether dusted with powdered sugar or formed into thumbprints with chocolate centers. 

They’re just the right amount of sweet. They might be a little addictive, but share them with friends and you won’t have to eat the entire batch yourself (a hazard with these cookies).

A traditional Italian almond cookie was the starting point when I began thinking about a recipe for these cookies.  And then I used some of what I learned from David’s recipe here. Adding  almond paste helps amp up the flavor. I cut back on the sugar, added a little lift (baking powder) so they were a bit lighter.  For variety I made two versions (and another excuse to use a little chocolate).

The thumbprint version contains a chocolate wafer or disk. But chocolate could easily be substituted with glazed holiday cherries. The others were rolled into little balls and coated in powdered sugar before baking. Easier than you can imagine and both are quite festive.

Glazed cherries don’t have to be full of corn syrup and crap. Here’s a recipe for homemade glazed cherries from Shauna Sever that I am definitely using this holiday season, though I might add a splash of  liqueur to the liquid to give it a festive flavor.

Almond paste is easy to find at most well stocked grocery stores with a good baking aisle – I typically use Solo Almond Paste which is gluten-free. Read labels because other brands can contain wheat products. During the holidays I often buy the paste from Amazon where you get a few packages for a decent price. But do the math – sometimes it is not a great price (dynamic pricing).

Most traditional Italian Almond Cookies are covered in almonds or pine nuts, but these are not because I am not fond of pine nuts and almonds are too expensive these days to watch them shatter and fall  off a cookie (wasting little bits of sliced almonds). Be sure to read through the recipe all the way so you become familiar with which ingredient goes with which version – you probably want to avoid lemon with the chocolate thumbprint.

These taste a little more intense after resting a day so they’re a great make-ahead cookie. Pack them up in festive bags and make some new best friends. Promise. Happy (freezing cold) festive season.


Holiday Almond Cookies with chocolate from GF Canteen

Holiday Almond Cookies
  • 105 grams egg white (3 extra large eggs)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 325 grams blanched almond flour (3 ¼ cups)
  • 150 grams superfine baker’s sugar (3/4 cup)
  • 60 grams GF almond paste (3 tablespoons)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 lemon, zested (optional) (omit for chocolate version)
  • 40 grams apricot jam or good quality honey (2 tablespoons)
  • 120 grams bittersweet chocolate disks (wafers) (3/4 cup or 30-35 disks) (omit for lemon version)
  • 55 grams powdered sugar, sifted (1/2 cup) (omit for chocolate version)
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or using an electric mixer, whip whites on high until they hold a gentle peak. Add vanilla and almond extracts and whip for a few seconds to combine.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor (helpful but not absolutely necessary) pulse together almond flour, sugar, almond paste, baking powder and salt until blended and smooth. This helps break up any lumps and smoothly combines the almond with sugar so that the final cookie is not too gritty. Place mixture in the bowl with the egg whites and if using, add lemon zest and drizzle the jam or honey on top. Using a silicone spatula fold the ingredients together until combined and mixture comes away from the sides of the bowl. Break off small pieces about the size of a heaping tablespoon and roll into a ball – damp hands help with anything meringue. Expect the dough to be sticky and slightly soft. Up to 14 cookies will fit on each baking sheet – they don’t spread.
  4. For chocolate cookies place a disk in the center and press so the cookies flatten slightly, like a thumbprint cookie. For lemon cookies, roll the balls of dough in the powdered sugar and place on the baking sheet as is.
  5. Let the cookie dough balls rest (it’s a meringue thing) to dry out a bit, about 20 minutes.
  6. Bake 12 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake 8 minutes more or just until the cookies are lightly browned. The chocolate cookies will brown more quickly than the lemon. Keep an eye on them. Let them cool on the parchment paper for a few minutes – though they look like cookies, they are meringues and will peel away from parchment a little easier once cool. Let them finish cooling on a rack. They get better with age.Makes 30-33 cookies.