Blogging has led me to some beautiful avenues, which other wise, I would probably not have ventured into. Trying out different recipes from different cultures has opened up a myriad of dishes to us. I am so happy to share these dishes that we tried and loved. Today, we bring you the Valencian almond cookies, also called Coca Cristina. These are gluten-free, dairy-free cookies that have very few ingredients and you can make them in no time.
This was our Baking Partner’s challenge for the month and it was suggested by Marisa. She suggested two recipes and I decided to go with these gluten free almond cookies. This is my first recipe post about gluten-free baking.
Yippeee yay yay!
To make these chewy almond cookies, you need only a few ingredients. When I tried the recipe for the first time, I was like “eh? what can go wrong?”.
Hmm yeah! I was so wrong!
The culprit was the almond flour I used. Well, the culprit was the almond flour I made. I blanched the almonds and ground them into a flour (rather a paste).
The water content in the almond flour/paste was too much and the cookies just stuck to the parchment paper that it was so hard to remove. I was ready to give up.
We scraped the “cookie” out of the parchment paper and they were so delicious that it was really hard to give up.
Mind you, they are unlike the cookies that use all-purpose flour. They are quite chewy and that is what made them fun.
So, I discussed with Swathi (who is forever ready to help, thanks a bunch Swathi) and we decided to use store bought almond flour and try again.
The second attempt was a full blown success.
Ooh!! Wow!! Well!
They turned out perfect.
Now, it is an old habit of mine to adapt a recipe to see how different flavors will work together. I love to experiment with flavors and this was a hard one to adapt, just because it has so few ingredients. So, I decided to do some more research and I came across a Martha Stewart recipe that uses, almonds, Fennel Seeds (or Anise) and Orange (along with other ingredients).
So you will find these almond cookies using flavors of orange and fennel seeds and not the traditional ones. I decided to go with bite-sized cookies than few big cookie(s) since I believe in moderation especially with cookies and desserts. This makes it easy to store in a cookie container or a plastic box with a tight lid. In the traditional coca cristina recipe, a simple garnish of powdered sugar is used. I wanted to give a vibrant color and decided to go with some crushed pistachios as garnish. They not only serve as a garnish, but add a little bit of texture too.
If I have made you curious about the original coca cristina recipe, here are the links you can follow.
They have followed the traditional recipe and methods (Marisa talks about the origins and history of the cookies) to make these gluten-free almond cookies.
I did one more experiment with these cookies.. I skipped adding egg yolks, and even then the cookies turned out great. I felt the cookies without the egg yolks were crispier (on the outside) than the ones with egg yolks. I will mention this in my notes, in case you are in a mood to experiment too.
The photos need a special mention 🙂 . Usually, it is my husband who takes the pictures for the blog. But these pictures were taken by your’s truly (post-processing was done by my husband). Do let me know how they turned out. My hand model was my Sonshine (he was home ’cause of a snow day (second one this season)) and he graciously agreed to model for me in return for three of these cookies. I think the last picture is not as sharp as I wanted it to be, but this is the best shot I have of him holding the cookie. He was tired, after what seemed like a gazillion shots and we had to call “pack up”. We cleaned up the “studio”, (which is a corner in my dining room) and enjoyed the coco cristina, in full ishtyle!
These chewy almond cookies are hard to resist. Flavors of orange, fennel seeds work so well in this gluten-free cookies.
15 minPrep Time
12 minCook Time
27 minTotal Time
- 2 large eggs
- 84 grams (approx. 0.75 cup) of blanched almond flour/almond meal
- 86 grams (approx. 0.4 cups) of sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds (gently crushed)
- 8-10 pistachios (crushed)
- oil to grease the parchment paper
- Preheat oven to 180ºC / 350ºF. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and grease it with oil.
- In a small bowl, add almond meal, orange zest, crushed fennel seeds and mix well.
- Separate the eggs and pour the egg whites into a large mixing bowl.
- Using a mixer on slow speed, beat the egg whites till foamy.
- Start adding the sugar in a stream and beat the egg whites till you get a stiff peak.
- To this, add vanilla essence and egg yolks and mix once again (see Recipe Notes)
- Gently fold in the almond meal mix (almond meal, orange zest, and fennel seeds mix) till well incorporated.
- Using a tablespoon, as the measurement, drop spoonfuls of batter onto the parchment paper (keeping an inch or two distance between the batter drops). Gently flatten (if required) with the back of a spoon. Garnish with pistachios.
- Bake it in a preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes or until the sides become brown in color and center is cooked. Remove from the parchment paper using a spatula and cool on a wire rack.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container.
1. Do not over crowd the baking tray with cookies, leave 2-3 inches gap between the cookies. If required, bake in batches.
2. It is easier to measure the ingredients in grams rather than in cups for these cookies.
3. Try experimenting skipping the egg yolks in step 6. For me, skipping the egg yolks resulted in a crispier (on the outside) and still chewy on the inside cookies.
4. While storing the cookies, it is advisable that you separate the cookies using small pieces of parchment paper. This prevents them from sticking to each other.
More from Baking Partners Challenge
Chocolate Chip Bagels
Making fresh chocolate chip bagels at home is easy. Follow the recipe to make the chewiest bagels on the inside and crisp on the outside. Experiment with different flavor and topping combinations. Oh, the possibilities are endless.
(This photo won the “Originality” category in the “DMBLGiT September 2015 contest”)
Cardamom flavored Cornbread Muffins
This was our Thanksgiving challenge with Baking Partners. So much fun, adapting the corn bread to use cardamom flavor and I serve these with some cardamom flavored butter. These were so fun to photo shoot too.
For Christmas, we tried Vánočka – the traditional bread baked in Czech Republic during Christmas. Very proud of how the photos turned out and this was even featured in the first page in Food Gawker. This bread is best enjoyed on the day it is made. But, it is a huge bread, and for the three of us, it lasted 2-3 days. The next day we made french toast and it was delicious.