What about Milk?


As the notes accompanying the recipe in the July-August 2019 Milk Street explain, Catalans like to dunk carquinyolis, local almond cookies, in coffee or in a sweet dessert wine.  Good advice in principle, though difficult in practice.  Coffee is an unfortunate choice, while a Catalan dessert wine could be a pricy acquisition for so limited a purpose.  What of the classic cookie companion, then, a glass of milk?

Milk, glad to say, works really well here.  Part of that has to do with milk doing justice to nearly any cookie, though here it has more to do with the great qualities of the carquinyoli itself.  Imagine a cookie that, simultaneously, is both crunchy and chewy.  For most cookies, that’s an either/or proposition, though today’s offering satisfies both ends of the crunchy-chewy continuum.

After this recipe was prepared, a search revealed some (though by no means all) carquinyolis are baked until they’re hard, almost like biscotti.  While the extra time in the oven probably doesn’t change the taste much, the texture would suffer.  Yes, this preparation is good just the way it is, with a bit of softness throughout.

The “chewy” part comes from a dough that’s worked as little as possible.  After the ingredients are mixed, they’re formed into a roll without much kneading in between. That roll, pictured below, is then sliced into individual cookies:Almond Cookie Roll

This explains the chewiness, but when does the crunchiness come in?  At the very end, right before baking, as each cookie is brushed with beaten egg, which ensures the teeth meet a crispy exterior before sinking into to the soft cookie below.  Not only that, but almond slices are lightly browned before being mixed into the dough, dispersing little packets of toasty crunchiness throughout the cookie.

On a whim, today’s preparation substituted almond flour for AP flour.  A good choice, and had that impulse continued through to the final rolling, these would have been gluten-free too.  A concern for more than one of you, and this journal always aims to please.

Not as much as the carquinyolis please, though.  Chewy with just enough crunch to excite the palate, they offer a smooth sweetness almost reminiscent of cherries, lost in buttery silkiness.  They’re a superb treat, great by themselves, but just begging to be dunked.  Select a good Catalan dessert wine, or coffee if you must (must you?), though nothing beats a dip in ice-cold milk.  It is the almond’s destiny.

*****

Carquinyolis

(Catalan Almond Cookies)

  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting (*1)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 ounces almond paste, divided in four (*2)
  • 1 teaspoon finely-grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs (1 whole, 1 separated)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Set oven racks at the uppermost and lower-middle positions.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda.

Distribute the almonds on one of the baking sheets and toast in the oven until they’re golden-brown, about 8 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Cool on a wire rack, and leave the oven heated.

In a food processor combine the sugar, almond paste, lemon zest and salt.  Process until the almond paste has broken down and the mixture is sandy, about 30 seconds.  Add the vanilla, the whole egg and the egg white and process until the mixture is smooth, about 20 seconds.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl containing the flour combination.  Stir with a rubber spatula until the two are nearly incorporated, then fold in the almonds.  Turn the mixture onto a lightly-floured surface and knead a few times.

Form the dough into a roll about 14 inches long and two inches thick.  Cut the roll crosswise into 1/2-inch slices and place them on the baking sheet, spacing them  at least an inch apart.  In a small bowl whisk together the remaining egg yolk and a teaspoon of water.  Brush this over the cookies.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, switching the trays halfway through.    Let cool on the tray for five minutes, garnishing with an almond slice if desired. (*3)  Remove cookies individually to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes, then serve.

NOTES:

1 – Almond flour works really well here, and it’s difficult to imagine how “regular” flour would be any better.  Avoid my mistake and use almond flour for kneading and rolling too, and these will be entirely gluten-free.

2 – Take care to select almond paste, not marzipan.  While the latter is good, it’s a little too sweet for this application.

3 – Not in the original recipe, but a nice touch, don’t you think?

29 thoughts on “What about Milk?

  1. Your description of these cookies is just divine. Chewy and crispy is a great combo and I give two enthusiastic thumbs for the addition of sliced almonds.

    These days I drink almond or coconut milk so that would be my dipping choice. I’m not exactly lactose intolerant but milk greatly exacerbates my allergy problems.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Much appreciated, JoAnn. Thank you!

      Now, almond milk, that’s a great idea. Almond + Almond = Almonds not Just Doubled, but Squared! That’s the formula that won JoAnn the Nobel Prize in Mathematics.

      Ah, you like the Chewy-Crispy combo too? So do I, and something tells me we both will find many other things to like in the months/years ahead!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Nothing, by itself, but you are aware, aren’t you, Almond Joy’s goodness must be offset in the culinary universe by something equally regrettable?

        Thus, every time we savor that combination of chocolate, almonds and coconut, another popcorn ball is born. Just speaking personally, I’m responsible for about 40,000 of those awful things.

        Think of today’s poor children, fleeing from house-to-house Halloween night, pursued by a wave of popcorn balls. Doesn’t seem so funny anymore, does it?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Much obliged, Jenn!

      The secret here, I think, is the almond paste. I was thinking marzipan, but no, this paste is so much better!

      In fact, I’ll have to look on the tube to see where the almonds were harvested. California, maybe?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Not much, apparently, as you took up the pace right away with these beautiful cookies, Angela!

      Now that finals are done, for now at least, why don’t you reward yourself with a batch? After all, you’re in one the world’s premier almond-growing locations (A fact we Back East recall daily, thanks to all the California almond commercials!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Excellent, Angela! Your MIL’s cookies fueled your trip through the Valley of the Exams, and here you are now, back in the sunny uplands, looking forward to more. More what? Learning? Adventures? Cookies? Yes, please!

        It’s funny, I love PB in cookies, cupcakes and in SE Asian cuisines (among many other delectable applications), but by itself…not so much.

        I say, satisfy your yearning for more cookies. The first batch (your MIL’s) fortified your recent valiant struggle, but you burned off all that energy, and then some. You’ve earned your righteous hunger. Reward it with Catalan almond cookies.

        You can obtain almond paste, can’t you? Well then, you’re already 90% of the way there. Come on, you’ve earned this!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Make these for Angela – right now!

        Well, that hardly is polite, is it?

        No time for niceties when you’re dealing with something as important as cookies. Our entire civilization depends on what happens next.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Did it work, or shall I send a telegram?

        Make cookies now! STOP

        Don’t stop. STOP

        No, I mean, to the kitchen now. STOP

        No! Don’t stop. Go! STOP

        ….Hmm, maybe I didn’t plan this very well.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. These look sooo yummy that I’m almost wondering if I can Not Cook them or make the presentation of turning on the oven, waiting for it to preheat, and then taking the empty cookie sheet (since I’ll have already ate them) and placing it in the oven just so there’s no issues- appearance wise and stuff.

    Hopefully, though, I will prove to be stronger than the cookie. 😗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, thank you, my friend, but don’t count on it. There’s something about that combination of chewy and crunchy that makes knees buckle.

      As for the current situation, Thor makes a good fall guy, right?

      “Now, how…how did that dog learn how to open oven door? Use hot mitts too? That dog, sometimes! Oh well, nothing to do but to make another batch.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No doubt, Thor’s mother often barked in consternation/befuddlement at the latest conundrum he had uncovered.

        “I swear. That puppy gets into more trouble than does the rest of the litter combined. And they’re quite the pawful too!”

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Your advantage, then. Both options enrich the experience.

      Still, you must decide. Which one gets the nod? I recommend an experiment, a double-batch of cookies. That way, you give each option a fair shot. Of course, this may take many trials. Shall I send you a couple cases of almond paste?

      Like

      1. OK, fine. This will be the fifth time I’ve sent something, though.

        I do have your address, correct? I keep shipping things to “Crystal – #7,” yet you act almost as though you’re not receiving anything.

        Every time I go to the Post Office to inquire, they’re all in the backroom, making noises that sound like a bunch of excited raccoons. Believe me, I don’t want any part of whatever it is they’re doing back there, and I make a hasty retreat.

        Like

      2. Thank you, my friend! Much of what I do inspires giggles. Fairly often, intentionally so.

        True story – I sometimes start developing ideas for articles at work, at my desk. Sometimes, this makes me laugh, which often produces startled (and a bit self-conscious) glances from passers-by. Of course, they probably think I’m laughing at something on YouTube. If only they knew…

        Liked by 1 person

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