Discovering the Almond Cookie

Looking for a great almond cookie? You're in luck if you like to explore, because there is a huge variety.

Beware if you are gluten free: some have an almond flavor but are made with flour, like Chinese almond cookies.

There are many flourless cookies made from almond meal with flavors ranging from subtle rosewater, orange blossom water, vanilla, or cinnamon to stronger citrus, spice, bitter almond, or coffee. Some include other nuts, or chocolate, or coconut.

Almond Ghoriba
Almond Ghoriba

Most have 3 basic ingredients as their foundation: almonds, sugar, and egg white, or occasionally whole egg. And some are egg free but have butter, some are vegan.

Below are a just a few of the many types of almond cookie, divided into 4 categories according to how they are made.

almond paste cookies  |   almond meringue cookies
other methods  |   egg free cookies

Almond Cookie Guide

Almond paste cookies

There are many types of almond paste cookies, including some almond macaroons, almond petit fours, and others. In general there are 2 types of recipes for making them.
  1. Recipes calling for prepared almond paste, which may have additional flavorings and additives, including gluten.
  2. Cookies made with the almond paste method. These require first processing equal amounts of almonds and sugar together, then mixing in unbeaten egg white. Basically you are making your own almond paste that has the appropriate ingredients for that particular cookie.
Check out this amazing list of almond paste cookies.

Almond meringue cookies

The cookies in this category are made by first beating the egg whites, or at least half of them, with sugar to make a meringue. Then it's combined with the almonds and other ingredients.
Almond Macaroons
Almond Macaroons

Some almond macaroons fall in this category, such as the famous Gerbets: the smooth-surfaced, and often filled and brightly colored French macaroons of Paris. But there are many other types of almond meringue cookies. Just a sampling:

  • Almond Boulders are made with Swiss meringue, a method that requires heating the meringue as it's being whipped. Toasted sliced almonds are added, then the cookies are piped into little peaked boulder shapes, or dropped with spoons.
  • Almond Soufflés (*French) are piped into little fluted bon bon cups.
  • Amaretti The classic Italian cookie, a cousin of the crackled macaroon, made with sweet and bitter almonds. They tend to more crisp than the French version. Like the macaroon, there are also almond paste recipes for amaretti.
  • Cinnamon sticks, made with a cinnamon flavored meringue and almonds, and rolled into little finger sized sticks.
  • Khedives Although they have a Persian name, these are French cookies, made with a chocolate almond meringue, and topped with almond meal.
  • Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars) These are Christmas cookies from Switzerland, often hung on the Christmas Tree.

I don't have recipes for most of these posted yet, but you can find recipes for some of them in the very fun, and informative French Cookie Book. If you're a closet pastry chef, be sure to check it out. *For a glimpse of how methods and foods evolve from one place to another, Creole soufflés are not meringue cookies like the French soufflés, but use a simpler method, and powdered sugar to make them lighter. You can find recipes in The Picayune Creole Cookbook.

Almond cookies using other methods

Some of these flourless cookies are simpler versions of macaroons-they require beating the egg whites alone, then adding the other ingredients. The simplest ones just mix everything together with minimum beating by hand. And some contain whole eggs rather than just egg whites.

    Italian Almond Cookies, Brutti Ma Buoni
    Brutti Ma Buoni
    Click image to enlarge.
  • Brutti ma Buoni: easy to make Italian almond cookies. Just almonds, sugar, beaten egg white, vanilla and a pinch of salt. (stabilizes the egg white)
  • Croquignoles contain both sweet and bitter almonds, powdered sugar and egg whites. They are brushed with water before baking to give their characteristic surface. See The Picayune Creole Cookbook for a recipe. Note: the name Croquignoles also applies to a type of fried bread similar to a beignet.
  • Kahk bi Loz, or almond bracelets, are an Egyptian almond cookie that is traditional at weddings and engagement parties. They are like little wreaths made with almond meal, egg white, powdered sugar, and orange blossom water, then decorated with blanched almonds.
  • Makroud el Louse: Algerian cookies with almonds, sugar, whole eggs, orange water...coated with powdered sugar.
  • Moroccan Almond Ghoriba: macaroon-like cookies that are made with almond butter, powdered sugar, whole eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and a small amount of butter. A variation is decorated with sliced almonds and a glaze.
  • Panellets: almond cookies from Cataluña that are made for Day of the Dead. Some versions incorporate potato or sweet potato flour, which is what makes these interesting.* Variations include candied fruit, chestnut, chocolate, coconut, coffee, egg yolk, hazelnut, lemon, orange, pine nut, quince, and strawberry. There are also egg free versions of panellets, with links to recipes, below. *The ICEX, which is the Spanish government agency for promoting Spain's products, absolutely prohibits potatoes, sweet potatoes and apples. They say panellets can be made from either of 2 types of almond paste, called basic marzipan and coarse marzipan, or from fine marzipan. The latter is cooked, as is marzipan in other countries. See the ICEX website, Foods from Spain, to learn more.
  • Ratafia cakes, from Jane Austen's time, have both sweet and bitter almonds, egg whites, powdered sugar, and orange-flower water.
  • Zimtsterne: these are gluten free Christmas cookies from Switzerland, also known as Cinnamon Stars. They are cut-out cookies made from almonds, egg whites, sugar, and cinnamon, and optional flavorings.

Egg free almond cookies, some vegan

  • Massafan Iraqi almond cookies that are vegan: just almonds, sugar, and rose water. You can find a recipe in Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet.
  • Mandelchen: a discovery from a vintage Jewish cookbook. They contain only almonds, sugar and butter. No eggs or flour.
  • Panellets Some Panellets have no eggs. (See above section for Panellets with eggs.) This recipe has potatoes, and they are eggs or butter. And check these out for many flavors of eggless Panellets, this time without potatoes.

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