After a big day at work or school, I still love sitting down to a small plate of cookies and milk. Throughout the years, I've tried a variety of cookies (food writer "research"), and milks of all kinds. One of my favorite combinations hits the spot every time: Simple vegan vanilla almond sandies with a glass of chilled almond milk. It's a great cookie with a hint of almond flavor that vegan and non-vegans will enjoy. This cookie couldn't be any easier to make and is incredibly simple and delightful on the palate. I was inspired by the look of almond cookies found in Vietnam and parts of China, but wanted a plain, shortbread type of flavor. After a few trials, I modified a classic shortbread recipe, substituting Earth Balance (vegan margarine) for butter and adding almond meal for natural almond taste, minus the synthetics of almond extract. The results are a plain, sandy type of confection, perfect for dunking into almond milk, tea or coffee. I'm all for exotics and additional ingredients, but sometimes, it's the plainest of treats that really send me into food nirvana.
These cookies could be dipped into melted chocolate for a more complex experience, or benefit from a hint of orange zest, they may even be perfect with flecks of poppyseeds and dusted with confectioners sugar, but why mess with perfectly plain? The dough may benefit from being refrigerated as many recipes call for, but I simply couldn't wait and the cookies turned out great! I urge you to make these cookies once as in, then modify to your heart's delight.
2 cups flour
1 cup almond meal or freshly ground almonds (I used Bob's Red Mill almond meal with great results)
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Pour this dry mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor. Blend in the vegan margarine, vanilla extract, and almond extract — just until the margarine is incorporated into the dough.
Shape into a 2-inch diameter log, and slice into 1/2 inch slices. Place cookie dough on sheets and gently press an almond into each cookie. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with a glass of milk.
(Images and collage: Leela Cyd Ross, thanks to Rebecca for modeling)