Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pains D'Amande - Very Thin French Almond Cookies

Pains D'Amande - ButterYum

When I read about these cookies on David Lebovitz's blog, they were described as "the best tea cookies in the world" and I knew I had to try them.  Let me tell you, they do not disappoint!  They're extremely thin, extremely crisp, and extremely addictive!  I have a standing order from 2 sisters, a brother, and my mother for more, more, more!!

The cookie dough is a cinch to make, but it has to chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours to firm up enough to slice into papery thin planks.  As skilled as I am with a sharp knife, I couldn't cut the dough as thin as I wanted, but a mandolin made pretty easy work of it.  If you're lucky enough to own an electric meat slicer, all the better. 


Pains D'Amande - Very Thin French Almond Cookies
Printable Recipe
makes 100-120 paper thin cookies 
an adaptation of a Flo Braker recipe, via David Lebovitz

113g unsalted butter (4 ounces)
75g water (1/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch or two of salt
280g Hawaiian raw sugar - see note below  (1 1/3 cups)
85g sliced almonds, not slivered (1 cup or 3 ounces)
325g all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside.

In a medium heavy bottomed, preferably non-stick, saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, water, cinnamon, and salt until butter is completely melted without allowing the mixture to boil.  Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is not quite completely dissolved (not letting the sugar melt completely adds wonderful texture); again, don't let the mixture boil.  Using a silicone spatula, stir in the sliced almonds and remove from the heat.  Stir in flour/baking soda mixture and stir until combined.  Pack dough into a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch silicone loaf pan (or a glass or metal cake pan lined with plastic wrap).  Chill for at least 4-6 hours until very firm.

Place oven rack in lower third and preheat oven to 325F.  Prepare at least 2 sheet pans with parchment or silicone liners.  Remove brick of cookie dough from loaf pan and slice cookies as thin as you can get them using a serrated knife, mandolin, or electric meat slicer (1/16-inch thick).  Place cookies on cookie sheet pan leaving about 1/4-inch between each cookie.  Bake, one sheet at a time, for 8 minutes, remove from oven and carefully turn cookies over, return to the oven and bake for another 4 minutes until they're crisp and honey colored.  Remove sheet pan from oven and immediately transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.  Proceed with subsequent batches, always being sure to put unbaked cookies on completely cool sheet pans. 

Stack cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 10 days, although I seriously doubt you'll have any left to store after your friends and family taste them. 




My Notes:
I've made these cookies quite a few times now.  Here are some helpful suggestions I've learned along the way.

These cookies puff a bit when baked.  If you find you cannot slice the dough paper thin, don't allow them to bake quite as long, so they stay a little chewy rather than getting too crisp (thick, crisp planks are difficult to eat and can injure the roof of your mouth - trust me, I know!).

The dough can be made in advance, wrapped well in several layers of plastic wrap, and stored in the freezer for later use.  Cookies can be sliced and baked directly out of the freezer.

Don't throw away the crumbled bits of dough that accumulate as you slice the cookies - just bake them off and enjoy as a tasty nibble, or toss them with a few mini chocolate chips and sprinkle over ice cream (really, really, really good).

When unmolding, I find a flexible silicone loaf pan is very easy to peel away from a hard brick of chilled dough. If you only have a metal loaf pan, be sure to line it with plastic wrap before pressing the cookie dough into it.  And if you have trouble coaxing the chilled dough out of the metal pan, wrap a warm towel around the base for a few minutes. 

This recipe is available on several sites with differing sugar amounts listed - some say 280g of sugar, some say 300g.  I made made both and couldn't tell a difference so I save a few calories by going with 280g.

Hawaiian Raw Sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw) is sold in 2-pound bags at most grocery stores.  Turbinado or Demerara sugars may be substituted.

David prefers to bake these cookies on parchment, but I got great results using a silicone Silpat liner.  I baked batches on both surfaces and couldn't tell a difference between the two.

Flo Braker's original recipe doesn't call for salt, but I always add a pinch to sweet things.  Also, I made a batch with 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and that was very good. 




Sugar/butter mixture.

Stir in almonds.

Add flour mixture.

Stir, stir, stir.

Press into loaf pan.

 Cover with plastic wrap and chill.

Unmold and slice very, very thin.

Bake.










35 comments:

  1. These look delicious and I'm going to make them tomorrow. I'm giving a luncheon on Saturday....'Fete a La Parisienne' and its all french. I posted it on my blog yesterday
    at http://atnannstable.blogspot.com/2012/04/fete-la-parisienne-and-youre-invited.html
    Anyway I can see these will be PERFECT!! I'm also hoping to make French Macarons....wish me luck. I've never made them before and I hear they are really tricky. My husband made your soup Monday night and it turned out fabulous. He wanted more carrots and celery so just added more. It tasted wonderful. He has bone cancer and thought this would be so good as vegies are his best allie. Thanks for the great recipe(s) Patricia.

    Nann

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    1. Hi Nann - so sorry to hear about your husband. Three of my loved ones have been touched by cancer in the past year - thankfully all are doing extremely well. Aren't the advances in medicine and technology amazing? Glad to hear he made the soup - it's on the menu this week in my house too.

      So glad you're going to give these cookies a try - I think you're going to love them. They keep very well as long as you protect them from humidity (although a quick visit to a moderate oven can remedy that).

      Have a wonderful luncheon. I'm heading over to your blog now!!
      :)

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    2. This has been on my to-do list for quite awhile. Can you give an estimate for the flour in non-metric terms?
      Thanks,
      Beth

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    3. According to Wikianswers.com, it's -- 1 1/4cups plus 3 tablespoons. I hope you make them - they're amazing!!

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  2. These look like the perfect cookie to me! I'll be trying these soon!

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  3. Very very thin and very beautiful and delicate! I love your presentation too. They can't go wrong with almond in them. Wish I had some cookies to snack on right now. Blogging can be very fattening!

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  4. These look fabulous! Your food styling is so pretty.

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  5. Oh, I know I would like these! Anything with almond is a favorite. I also like thin, crisp cookies. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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  6. These sounds so good! I may try these for my friends birthday... She loves anything almond and wrapped with a ribbon like you did would make a beautiful birthday present. And your photos are beautiful too!
    ~Really Rainey~ @ The Project Table

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  7. Pains D'Amande, what a beautiful presentation! We would just love this delicate treat! Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week end!
    Miz Helen

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  8. How nice of you to gift wrap that stack of cookies for me! :) Those are some beautiful cookies~ I look forward to trying them!

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  9. I cannot wait to try these as I love anything with butter and almonds. I also really appreciate the info you gave in your "My Notes." I took note of everything. :)

    Lori

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  10. Love almonds....will be trying these. Thaknks for the notes too. I try to include notes to readers as well... They are very helpful. -- Joann

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  11. You always make the yummiest treats!! Hope all is well!

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  12. These look and sound divine! I love how easy it is to make them so thin as well. Gotta give them a try soon. I love all kinds of almond cookies...especially thin and crispy like these.

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  13. Oooh la la...these French treats look fabulous! What a perfect tea cookie...and I love the suggestion to slice the dough on a mandolin~

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  14. These look delicious, mmm!! Yummy, can't wait to try out! Thanks for sharing.

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  15. Yum! Everything you make looks so good! These cookies made me think about the French Macarons I ordered on Etsy the other day...they were so good! I ordered some interesting flavors too. I usually don't endulge on expensive cookies, but they looked so good I couldn't resist. I'm sure you have made them before...I have heard they are tricky and wouldn't dare try them. I am not much of a cook at all!

    Glad you like the living room changes! It is definitely a bright and colorful room. I'm glad you pointed out the typo...if you ever see anymore please let me know! Sometimes I get in a hurry and forget to hit the spell check...like this time =0 Thanks for your visit! Kristen

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    1. I'm almost embarrassed to admit I've never made macarons... they're on the to-do-someday list though :).

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  16. Patricia, This thin french tea cookie is an absolute must for me to make. Wouldn't it be so thoughtful as a hostess gift? Of course I would have to make a batch just for me!
    You have them so beautifully displayed! Very very attractive! Thank you for this wonderful post, extra tips and scrumptious cookie!
    xo

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    1. Perfect for a hostess gift, as a matter of fact, I've done exactly that on several occasions. xo

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  17. Will definitely have to try these - with my faithful assistants!

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    1. They will LOVE them! I just visited the girl's blogs - so cute!!

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  18. I have to be honest, these don't look like the most interesting thing in the world however i have tried them and i personally think that they taste great.


    Caterers in Manchester

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    1. Agreed - they're not the most attractive, are they? Thankfully their flavor more than makes up for their lackluster appearance. I'm working on a twist that would be much more attractive, so stay tuned.

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  19. Patricia I SO wanted to make these for my Parisienne luncheon AND the macarons but time there was not. I always plan entirely too much. Its part of my nature. I have yet to learn to scale back. BUT I am doing another luncheon next month and I think I am going to do another Paris theme but this time in black and white and the Eiffel Tower. By hook or crook I AM going to make these. But I'll probably make well in advance and freeze them. I went out and made sure I had every ingredient. So at least I have that on hand now. Thanks again for a great recipe and tutorial.

    Nann

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  20. Patricia....After going over your recipe again, I think I will make the dough, put it in the pans and freeze it. Then a day or two before defrost, slice and bake. Do you think that would be the best way or do you think I should bake them first then freeze them?

    Nann

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    1. I'm guilty of doing exactly the same thing - I always make grandiose plans, only to then have to scale back because of time constraints. You can bake them first as long as you have an airtight container to store them in. I've kept them in a cookie tin for several week and they were fine. Humidity will make them chewy instead of crisp, so keep that in mind.

      I've never frozen them baked, but if I were to, I'd wrap them well and place in an airtight container, then thaw them slowly in the same airtight container overnight in the fridge, then move the same airtight container to the counter to come to room temp before opening (to prevent condensation for forming on the cookies).

      If you decided to freeze the dough, you can slice the cookies directly from the freezer or put the dough in the fridge overnight before slicing. The dough needs to be very firm to slice.

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  21. Thanks Patricia....I'll let you know what happens and I'll try and get some photos. I like how you stacked and ribboned them. Very classy.That might look great too if I used a black ribbon for the black and white Parisienne theme or you know a striped or polka dot. Oh my mind is going wild right now. LOL Wish you lived closer I'd have you to the luncheon.

    Nann

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  22. Your almond cookies look absolutely beautiful all stacked and tied with ribbons! This looks like such a wonderful recipe, and I really appreciate all your extra hints and tips. I can just imagine how gorgeous these would be served with tea in china cups!

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  23. Hi Patricia...

    Mmmm...French Almond Tea cookies!!! I love any type of cookie with almonds or almond flavoring. Wondering if you could add a bit of almond flavoring to the dough? They really turned out beautiful looking...especially all tied up with a pretty ribbon! I'd love to try these...thanks for sharing your recipe!

    I just wanted to come by to say hello and tell you thank you for stopping in and taking a peek at my tea on the veranda! I enjoyed your sweet note and visit, my friend!

    Warmest wishes,
    Chari

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  24. Thank you for participating in Show Your Stuff Blog Hop, You are invited to come back:
    http://juliejewels1.blogspot.com/2012/04/show-your-stuff-21-sloppy-dave-recipe.html

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  25. Patricia....I am FINALLY making these today for another luncheon I'm giving on Friday(again its French but in black, white and the palest of pink). I ended up buying the turbinado sugar as that is all they had (no raw.) So I'll let you know how they come out. Hopefully I'll get some good photos if they do. So excited to finally being able to make these. Hope mine turn out as nicely as yours.

    Nann

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    1. Yea! I'm sure they'll work out fine for you. Can't wait to hear how you like them. Have a great party!!

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