Thanksgiving is over and we can get right to the Christmas cookies. Hooray! To get started, here's an old favorite from Bon Appetit called Chai Spiced Almond Cookies. At first glance they appear to be Snowballs, but one bite proves otherwise. Made with both vanilla and almond extract and loaded with spices, they're robust on flavor and will stand out at the holiday cookie exchange. They're also egg free, so I suppose they'd be easy to veganize by using one of the new non-dairy butters. I may try that on the next go-round.
While this version is very similar to the original, I've made adjustments over the years. I use less than a tablespoon of dough to get 22 cookies, and I reduce the bake time to 18 minutes. Since the cookies don't have a lot of sugar in the dough, they bake up nice and round.
With all the sugar on the outside, the cookies are plenty sweet! Here they are in their little sugar bath. You dust them while hot, then again after they cool.
Chai Spiced Almond Cookies also stay fresh longer than some other types of Christmas cookies, so they're a great make-ahead. I guess the only drawback to this recipe is that it only makes 22 cookies. For a cookie exchange you'd need to need to either make multiple batches or double it.
Variation: I've been known to use Penzey's Cake Spice in place of the allspice.
Chai Spiced Almond Cookies (Snowballs)
- 1 stick 114 grams unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ⅓ cups powdered sugar -- divided use
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ¾ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour 130 grams
- ¾ cup toasted almonds -- finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Using an electric mixer, beat butter, ⅓ cup of the powdered sugar, both extracts, spices and salt in medium bowl. Stir in the flour, then stir in the almonds.
- Using slightly less than a tablespoon, portion dough and shape into 22 little balls. Arrange a couple of inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets and bake cookies either one sheet at a time OR on lower and middle racks (alternating halfway) for 18 minutes.
- Let cool on sheet 5 minutes. Place remaining sugar in a large bowl. Working in batches, gently coat hot cookies in sugar. Cool cookies on rack. Roll again in sugar and serve.