There is nothing about this recipe that leads me to believe that it’s Armenian in some way, but I did find it in Rose Baboian’s “Armenian-American Cookbook,” and that’s what she called them, so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! She seemed to be pretty good about noting when a recipe was one of her own creations or attributing it elsewhere, but since there was no specific indication of where this one came form, I did an online search. Although I did find a few sites with this same recipe, there was no attribution, so I’m throwing it to Rose.
This is basically an almond shortbread cookie. I did not change the ingredients in any way, but that was all I had written down, so the instructions may vary slightly from hers. I do know for sure that she had sifted her flour, where I did not. As big a fan as I am of vanilla, when reading the ingredients, I questioned the use of a tablespoon of vanilla to a teaspoon of almond extract in an “almond” cookie, but I went with it. Despite the inclusion of the ground almonds in the filling and the almond on top, I will opt to increase the almond extract next time. I’ll probably go with equal amounts of vanilla and almond.
As far as the almonds on top go, they were specified to be blanched, but no reason was given. I’m guessing that back in the day, it wasn’t as common to be able to find skinless almonds at the grocery store, so that step was probably just for removing the skins. If you do have access to skinless almonds, I say go for it. They’ll be crispier and probably pack a bit more flavor.
24+ almonds, blanched, skins removed
1 c butter, room temp
1/2 c sugar
1 t almond extract
1 T vanilla extract
1/2 c ground almonds
1/2 t salt
2 c flour
- Start by blanching your almonds. The recipe yield indicated 24 cookies, but I blanched some extra almonds, which worked out well since I apparently made my cookies smaller. Drop the almonds into boiling water for about 30 seconds, then drain and run under cold water (or plunge into ice water) to stop the cooking process and cool them down. Pinch to pop them out of their skins – being aware that some will be full of water and might squirt at you. Set aside on a paper towel or clean dish towel to dry.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the extracts until incorporated.
- Beat in the ground (or crushed depending on texture you like) almonds.
- Sprinkle the salt over the flour, then add to the mixture in two additions until incorporated.
- Roll into walnut-sized balls and transfer to ungreased baking sheets.
- Press each with a fork to flatten into a grid pattern like with peanut butter cookies (I did one tray this way and the other just pressed with my hand.)
- Press an almond into the top of each cookie.
- Bake at 325 for 20″ until a light golden brown.