Christmas cookie season has begun. Christmas is one of my favorite times of year and its seasonal treats have a special place in my heart (and stomach). The only problem of course is not letting the sugar send you into the downward spiral that is the sugar binge. Classic iced holiday cookies are often so sweet that they immediately give you that sugar high jolt followed shortly by the inevitable crash. This year I’ve been testing out a few recipes to satisfy my sweet tooth without going overboard.
I’m half-German so when it comes to Christmas cookies I crave almond, anise, and molasses. One of my favorite recipes is the Bethmännchen marzipan cookie. Because of its almond base and mildly sweet flavor, it’s the perfect cookie to tweak with a healthy twist.
Marzipan Christmas Cookies (Paleo, Gluten-Free)2 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup almond flour (additional 2 tablespoons reserved)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1/4 cup sliced almonds .
In a food processor, blend almond flour with maple syrup, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Almond extract can be strong, so start by adding 1/4 teaspoon and bump it up from there. Blend until a thick paste is formed. This is your marzipan.
Next, separate the egg and set the yolk aside. Toss the egg white into your processor along with the arrowroot powder and additional almond flour. Your cookie dough will be thick and a little sticky. If it’s too sticky, you can add an additional teaspoon or two of almond flour. Scoop the dough into plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Meanwhile preheat your oven to 275F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Once ready, take out your chilled dough and using your hands form it into small balls (about the size of a walnut). Using your hands, form little balls the size of a small walnuts and place them on the baking tray. It’s easier to roll balls if your hands are moistened. Place on baking tray; they don’t spread so you can crowd them fairly close.
Mix your reserved egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water and brush it across the top of your cookies. Decorate with three sliced almonds and bake for about 25 minutes. If you want to be really traditional you can use blanched almond halves, but it won’t make or break the recipe. I underbake mine because I like to make sure the insides were still nice and soft.
Once they’re done, let cool for a few minutes before taste testing. This recipe serves 2-4 people (the cookies are small so the definition of a serving size is open to interpretation).
These cookies are great for parties, although make sure you at least double or triple the recipe. Most hosts I know try to get rid of leftover sweets when the night is over, but these are subtly sweet enough that he/she might just want to keep a few.