Joy the Baker

Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies

November 13, 2012

almond cloud cookies

November is a month that always makes my head spin.  I feel like I’m barreling full force into the holidays, into the end of the year, into planning my life for the next year, into trying to keep my act together and my sore throat at bay.

I only wish November came with a tally of the year… just a little list that could tell me what has gone down in my year so far.

I don’t need an update on my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012… we all know those were shot to hell somewhere around January 18, 2012.  I want a tally more along the lines of:  How many times I used the word ‘bonkers’.  How many cookies I stress ate in my car.  How many times I’ve walked around town with either a pound of butter, or a bag of brown sugar in my purse.  How many times I’ve Googled the same word to spell check it.  You know… the important things.  The things that really tell you how you’re living in your everyday.  Quirky, cosmopolitan, and resourceful… right?

The November days are ticking away quickly. December will come and go in a blur of cranberries and Mariah Carey Christmas CDs.  Before we know it we’ll be pushing someone in the frigid pool at the New Year’s Eve party.

For now… while we have this simple and quiet November 13th… let’s just enjoy these (or really any) cookies, close our eyes and tally the year’s ridiculousness.

When it comes to these (gluten-free!!) Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies, I feel like I have some explaining to do.

Some explaining beyond an enthusiastic ‘they’re amazing!’ (which they totally are).

These cookies are made with almond paste.  Almond paste is a thick mixture of ground almonds, sugar, and almond flavoring.  It’s an all-almond situation.  Because almond paste is the main ingredient of these cookies, we’re talking about an intensely almond extravaganza.

almond cloud cookies

Almond flavor is paired with orange zest and vanilla bean.  I think the three are pretty, fragrant, and well deserving of one another.

almond cloud cookies

We’ll need two egg whites.

almond cloud cookies

And we’ll need to beat those egg whites until they’re a bit frothy.

almond cloud cookies

The almond paste is beaten with the fragrant orange and vanilla sugar.

It’s crumbly and that’s totally cool.  The egg whites will be mixed in, and smooth out our cookie world.

almond cloud cookies

No flour.  No butter.  No baking powder or baking soda.  Just almond, lovely sugar, and eggs (ok… there’s salt and almond extract too).

It’s like being on the almond flavor train.

almond cloud cookies

The flavor train is dusted generously with powdered sugar.

almond cloud cookies

Three finger indentations are made in each cookie and they’re off to meet the oven.

almond cloud cookies

These are among the most dreamy cookies imaginable.  Taste and texture are supreme!  The cookies bake up with a lightly golden, crisp exterior.  They’re covered in powdered sugar so there’s no mouth breathing while ingesting.  The inside is impossibly soft and tender… and so beautifully flavored with almond, orange, and vanilla, your brain will find its happy place.  Chewy meets crunchy.  Pavlova meets macaroon (minus the coconut) meets edible cloud.

This recipe is inspired by a cookie I enjoyed at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont this weekend.  I need to tell you more about that trip!  Suffice it to say, I made a ton of pie, I baked with some lovely (and super talented) students, and I was genuinely surrounded by people who love good flour and respect good baguette as much as I do.  Basically… heaven.

Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies

recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

Print this Recipe!

makes 18 to 21 cookies

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoon orange zest

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

10 ounces almond paste

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

powdered sugar

Place two racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together granulated sugar, orange zest, and scraped vanilla seeds.  Use your fingers to works the zest and vanilla into the sugar, creating a fragrant, moist sugar.

Place sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the almond paste and salt.  Beat on medium speed creating a crumbly sugar and almond mixture.

While almond mixture is combining in the mixer, place two egg whites in a small bowl.  Whisk  with a fork until loose and frothy.  This will help in pouring the egg whites into the mixer.  If the eggs are unbeaten, they’ll just plop into the mixing bowl and not pour in.

With the mixer on medium speed, gradually pour the egg whites in to the crumbly almond and sugar mixture.  Beat until a smooth paste is formed.  Add the almond extract and beat to combine.

Spoon or scoop batter by the heaping tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.  Using the tips of three of your fingers, make indentations in each cookie.

Bake cookies for 20 to 25 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned on top.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan.  Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.  


142 Comments Add A Comment

  • Heavenly cookies that’s for sure

  • Joy, this post absolutely made my week. I was sitting here. Quietly. Trying to kick a bout of depression. I saw your post and figured “I should read Joy’s post to cheer me up” and there sat the words “gluten-free” describing these amazing-looking cookies! Now, I’m sure this post wasn’t just for me (I commented on your last post about my Husband with celiac disease) but it really, really felt like it. I needed this… I needed to read your beautiful words and to see these amazing cookies. Tears welled up in my eyes and I knew that – with these cookies, which seem like a gift from you – tomorrow will be SO much better. Brighter. Thank you so much for being here, Joy. You’re a lovely, lovely woman.

  • Love the cookies and love the bit about November. Yes, the year has gone fast and before you know it Christmas will be here and I for one am never prepared for the rush, but I do enjoy it. Especially baking cookies and listening to Rosemary Clooney while sugar and flour coat the kitchen floor. Paulette

  • Jamie @ green beans & grapefruit November 13, 2012 at 3:34 am

    You’ve convinced me to bonker out on these!

  • They sound dreamy. They look dreamy.

  • Joy these cookies sound great – love the name of them. Cloud cookies. And with vanilla. And orange. NICE! And yes, please share more about your time at King Arthur if you can – would love to hear about it!

  • how can I make almond paste? Can’t get it at a store in this part of the world :(

  • These look yummy. Is almond paste the same as marzipan?

    Thanks
    Lee

    • I believe marzipan has more sugar in it than almond paste. Not sure if you can substitute measure for measure. Maybe someone else out there has that information.

      • Marzipan is a 60:40 ratio sugar to almonds, while Almond Paste is a 50:50 ratio. You need to decrease the sugar in the recipe by weighing your marzipan and decreasing the sugar in the recipe by 10% of that weight.

  • These cookies sound like an absolute dream; food always seems so heavy at this time of year and I love the idea of this light & bright citrussy cookies.

  • oh yum !
    i just finished my dinner of fries and brown butter bourbon blondies,
    because of the many things you have taught me joy its that potatoes are a vegetable (so its totally okay to have fries for dinner) and that bourbon should be considered a major food group… i cherish your knowledge :)
    soooooo, can i still have these cookies for desert?
    (please say yes !)

  • These cookies are perfect: almond paste, egg whites…my bf is so gonna love ‘em. Can’t wait to try them!

  • Marz? o takich ciasteczkach jak Twoje :-)
    Pozdrawiam serdecznie!
    Basia

  • Hi Joy,

    These cookies grabbed my attention when I was doing my morning cereal flick through my bookmarks but I was just wondering what almond paste is? I’m English (or British as Americans seem to like to call us…) and I’ve never seen that here before – is it the same as marzipan?

    Cheers :) Hope the weather’s nicer in your parts than it is here in Oxford at the moment!
    x

    • Marzipan is not the same as almond paste- there’s a higher sugar to almonds ratio. It can also contain whipped egg whites and or glycerin.
      You can find recipes to make your own almond paste too. Most commonly in the states, I’ve found almond paste in a can or a tube.
      Hope that helps.

      Christine

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