I think most of my almond cookie consumption as a child was from Chinese buffets. After a plate or two of regular food, I would take a break, then go for a mix of canned fruit, surprisingly solid jello, and a few almond cookies. And a bowl of soft serve ice cream with too many sprinkles.
I’m not exactly sure how traditionally Chinese those little, yellow, crumbly cookies are, but they at least were common to all buffets. I think my grandma made them once for us as well. All I remember is that it apparently required lard, and that was way out of my comfort zone.
As such, I have never even contemplated making almond cookies until I was searching for dairy-free cookies, and I found this almond ginger cookie recipe. Rather than lard, it uses vegetable shortening, which is also not butter and therefore perfectly dairy free.
And since I was serving it as part of a lunch party (we’re all in on lunch parties instead of dinner parties these days due to being on a baby schedule), I also appreciated the very simple preparation.
The recipe starts by finely chopping crystallized ginger. Although I frequently cook with it, I really don’t like eating ginger: to this day, I always cut ginger in a distinct shape when incorporated into dishes so it’s easy to fish out. There’s nothing like thinking I’m about to eat a piece of chicken or potato and instead getting the crunch and kick of ginger.
Even covered in sugar, I tried a piece and still didn’t like it. Maybe it’s okay if it’s small enough, though.
The dough itself is quite straightforward. Rather than creaming butter, the recipe creams the shortening. I wasn’t sure if incorporating the air mattered at all, so I didn’t let it beat as long as I normally do.
After the egg, almond extract, and dry ingredient, I incorporated the ginger.
These cookies don’t rise much, so after scooping out dough balls, I rolled them smooth, dipped in sugar, then flattened with a cup. I suspect the sugar coating also isn’t traditional, but I had no complaints.
I almost forgot to put the sliced almond on top. Actually, I did forget, then pulled the sheet back out of the oven and added them a minute into baking.
I was pleasantly surprised at how the cookies turned out. The ginger was a nice addition and not overwhelming, and they did taste and crumble like the almond cookies I remember. The color isn’t quite the same, but I suspect they used food coloring anyways.
You can try this twist on the Chinese buffet classic from Taste of Home