On the sixth day of Christmas … my true love gave to me … Sweet Parmesan Almond Cookies.
I’ve never seen a recipe for SWEET parmesan cookies. Recipes for SAVORY parmesan cookies abound, as any Bing Search will reveal. But why not a sweet parmesan cookie?
The inspiration for this unusual cookie comes from executive chef, Gregory Denton, of Portland, Oregon’s Metrovino restaurant. Chef Denton recently shared with me his recipe for MetroVino’s Parmesan Pound Cake, which I fell in love with at the restaurant and will share with you in the very near future.
While in the middle of this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Starry Night bake-a-thon, it suddenly occurred to me that if parmesan can go into a cake, it can surely go into a cookie. And since this is my year to develop new and unusual Christmas cookies, I decided to give it a try.
The result is interesting and will perhaps not appeal to every palate. I began my testing with ½ cup Parmesan but ended up cutting it to a mere ¼ cup. At this level, the Parmesan flavor is subtle and suggestive of something you can’t quite identify. There is a bit of cultured tang to the flavor, such as sour cream or cream cheese might lend.
These are definitely the cookies to present to your epicurian friends over the holidays. See if they can identify the illusive ingredient.
Sweet Parmesan Almond Cookies
This is a most interesting cookie with just a hint of savory Parmesan. The texture is lovely—light, tender, a little crunchy, and buttery. Save these for thoughtful nibbling.
2 cups King Arthur unbleached, all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup almond meal (Trader Joe’s)
¼ cup finely grated (almost powdered) parmesan
1½ cups fresh unsalted butter, at cool room temperature (3 cubes)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
clear or gold sprinkles or sanding sugar, optional
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons cold milk, approximately
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 drop red food coloring, optional
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Whisk to thoroughly distribute the salt. Stir in the almond meal and parmesan, and distribute evenly. Reserve.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until pale but not curdled.
- Add the vanilla extract, and incorporate.
- Add the flour-almond meal-parmesan mixture, and mix very briefly on very slow speed, just until a dough forms.
- Divide the dough into 3 equal portions and flatten each portion to a ½-inch thick disk on a sheet of plastic wrap. Seal the plastic wrap around each portion of the dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. (The sealed dough can be refrigerated for 2-3 days if necessary.)
- On a lightly floured pastry cloth, using a covered rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thick. Use a little flour to keep the dough from sticking if necessary, but try not to work too much additional flour into the dough.
- Using a 2¼-inch flower-shaped cookie cutter (or cutter of your choice), cut out the cookies.
- Arrange slightly apart on cookie sheets that have been lightly coated with vegetable spray.
- If desired, sprinkle cookies with sprinkles or sanding sugar.
- Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes, rotating sheets at the halfway point to ensure even browning.
- Remove from the oven, loosen each cookie with a thin spatula and let cool for 3-4 minutes on the sheet.
- Remove cookies from the cookie sheet and place on a wire rack and cool completely.
- To make the icing, in a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and almond extract until smooth. The icing should be thin enough to drizzle over the cookies.
- When cookies are completely cool, drizzle icing over each one. Let dry on the wire rack.
- When icing is set, store cookies airtight, in layers separated by wax paper rounds, in a cookie tin, in a cool, dry place. These cookies improve with age. They keep for 3-4 weeks. Cookies may also be frozen.
Makes about 3½ dozen, 2¼-inch round cookies.
Also, check out last year’s collection, Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Deck the Halls.