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Cookie Question for a novice baker


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First, here's the recipe:

Mom's Christmas Almond Cookies

(btw, best cookies ever!)

4 cups sifted flour

1 t. baking powder

2 cups shortning or unsalted butter

2 cups sugar

1 egg beaten

1 1/2 t. almond extract

1 t. vanilla

Cream shortning & sugar-mix together all ingredients and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Rool out dough between wax paper layers and cut into 1/4# rounds with cookie cutter.

For topping:

1 egg beaten w/tb. water

Almond halves for center.

Press almond halves to top of cookie dough, and brush with egg wash.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Here's the issues I had:

1) they spread out too much;

2) Thye did not rise quite like I remember them.

3) Do you have to grease the baking sheet since there's that much shortning/butter in the recipe(I used half of each, and found them too buttery-will use all shortning next time-sorry Mom)? Would they have not spread out without the Pam-sprayed cookie sheet?


Frank in Austin

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Shortening will keep a cookie from spreading as much as butter would. With that much fat in the recipe, I wouldn't grease the baking sheets.

Are these similar to Chinese-American "Almond Cookies"? My recipe for those directs one to make balls of dough and press the almond on top to flatten them a bit.

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A couple of things come to mind:

1) Did you check the expiration date on your baking powder?

2) Since the cookies spread so much, were they too crispy? I've seen where you want to use butter to get a thinner, crisper cookie and shortening to get a moister, thicker cookie.

3) You could probably just bake on Pam covered cookie sheets, but what about using parchment paper? You can reuse the sheets a number of times before having to change them out. Then you wouldn't have to mess with the Pam at all.

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Thanks to everyone's prompt responses.

baroness-I will try 100% shortening today. They do look like the Chinese version, but lighter and cakey-er(hopefully!)

Tino-the baking powder is new, -I did toss a 2 yr. old can after watching a recent Alton Brown show though.

pastrygirl-I'll try a tbsp. next time-mom's recipe just had a 't' so I wasn't sure.

Is a tsp. per cup a general rule of thumb?

Edited by franktex (log)

Frank in Austin

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I just located my recipe; despite the use of all butter, they are fairly cake-y...perhaps due to making dough balls rather than rolling the dough out.

Chinese Almond Cookies

Sift together:

2 3/4 c. flour

1 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. each salt and baking soda.

Cut in:

1 c. butter

until mixture resembles cornmeal.


1 slightly beaten egg

1 tsp. pure almond extract

and mix well.

Shape into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on UNgreased baking sheets.

Place a:

whole, blanched almond (about 1/3 c. total needed)

atop each cookie and press down to flatten slightly.

Bake at 325F for 15-18 minutes (until set and bottoms brown slightly). Makes about 4 1/2 dozen.

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It's also possible you overcreamed the butter/sugar mixture. I wouldn't go with 100% shortening...you lose some valuable buttery flavor that way. DON'T cream it til light and fluffy....just cream it til smooth. When you incorporate too much air into the fat/sugar, you

get a cookie that spreads too much.

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