Where to begin?
Thank you to my family.
Thank you to the friends who voted and recruited their frends to vote, and their friends’ friends.
Thank you to the colleagues who, when our network blocked them from voting, voted from their home computers, BlackBerries, and iPhones.
Thank you to the loyal readers who found me in the early days and stayed close while I fought my way out of crappy and embarrassing photos.
Thank you to those who serve as inspiration and muse for my cooking, recipes, and writing.
Thank you to the complete strangers who discovered Kosher Camembert through Joy of Kosher’s best kosher food blog contest and enjoyed it enough to vote.
Until I can send each and every one of you these almond and orange croquants (my lucky officemates … you were the first recipients), please accept my gratitude with this recipe.
Almond and orange croquants
Croquants are crispy French almond cookies, normally very sweet and merengue-based. I found a recipe for ones that are similar in shape and texture to biscotti on the blog that inspired me to start this one. If you like biscotti, check out these almond and chocolate ones. These croquants are not too sweet with almonds that are well toasted and only 1 ½ cups of sugar to 4 cups flour. The original recipe calls for half white whole wheat flour, but I prefer to only use all-purpose. If you taste the raw dough, it will taste a little bitter – don’t worry — this is from the orange blossom water and it mellows during baking.
Makes about 4 dozen.
– 12 ounces whole raw almonds (approximately 2 ½ cups)
– 4 C all-purpose flour (or use a scale to measure out 500 g flour) or 2 C all-purpose and 2 C white whole wheat flours
– 1 ½ C sugar
– 1 t baking powder
– ½ t kosher salt
– 2 large eggs
– 2 T orange blossom water
– 1 orange for zest
– approximately ½ C cold water
– optional: sugar in the raw ( also called “turbinado” or “demerara”) and fleur de sel (or kosher salt)
Preheat. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Toast. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheets. Toast in the oven for about 15 minutes. They’re ready when the scent of almonds wafts over from the kitchen. When you take them out of the oven, the inside should be light brown and the skins should start to crackle as the nuts cool.
Mix. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt (I used my stand mixer). Add eggs one at a time, orange blossom water, and orange zest and incorporate. At this point, the mixture will be very crumbly and will not yet come together. Add the cold water, 2 tablespoons at a time, and mix until the dough comes together. Gently stir in cooled almonds.
Shape. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Shape the dough into 2 or 3 long loaves on the parchment. The dough will be sticky – just go with it. I typically make the logs about 3 inches wide. You can make them wider, but make sure to leave enough room between the two loaves to allow them to spread without touching.
Sprinkle. Wet your hands and slide them over the loaves to smooth out the sticky dough. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and sugar in the raw.
Bake. Bake the loaves for 30-40 minutes. I set my timer for 30 minutes and then check the loaves every few minutes . They are ready when the dough sets and turns golden brown.
Cool slightly. Remove the loaves from the parchment (they should come off pretty easily) and cool for 5-10 minutes. If you let them cool for too long, they’ll be too hard to slice.
Lower temperature. Lower the oven to 225ºF.
Slice. Slice the still-warm loaves diagonally into skinny slices, about 1-2 cm (or 1/2 inch) wide.
Bake again. Lay the slices on a cooling rack and place the rack directly in the oven. This will allow the croquants to crisp evenly. Or, spread the slices out on your cookie sheet and flip them over half way through the second baking. Bake again for 20-25 minutes.
Store. Let the cookies cool and then store in an airtight tin. You can always crisp them up a bit on low heat in a toaster oven.