Blueberry Almond Cookies
This time of year, the beginning of summer, is usually known as the Era of Competing Interests. Interest #1: The loads of sweet summery desserts that are practically mandatory for the plethora of upcoming BBQs, picnics, and outdoor parties. Interest #2: The ability to wear a new bathing suit/tiny summer dress to said BBQ, picnic or party. These two interests rarely get along and are the cause of many internal battles concerning the exact calorie count in a 1-inch brownie versus the actual calories burned on the elliptical machine. The mounds of fresh fruit appearing at the grocery stores and farmer’s markets have been known to inject in this debate an intense desires to make berry pies, cobblers and all things representing sticky sweet, summery goodness.
I don’t want to alarm you, but I may have found a solution to this annual occurrence. How does a sweet, cakey cookie packed with fresh blueberries, lemon zest and toasted almonds sound? Pretty darn good. Ok, let’s make this official … Do you, Antioxidant-Packed Blueberry, take you, Fiber-Filled Almond, to be your partner in cookie making magic for summers to come? They do!! And now, I introduce you to the results of a marriage made in cookie heaven.
Crunchy cookie lovers keep on truckin’ cause this isn’t the cookie for you. This cookie is what I imagine the love child of a muffin top and a scone would taste like. Cakey, not-overly sweet and bursting with bright flavors. If you are feeling especially creative (and don’t mind the added few calories), I would suggest brushing the tops of the cookies with an egg wash and sprinkling them with raw or turbinado sugar. This gives them a sparkly, crunchy finish.
If you are like me, you probably roll your eyes when you see an ingredient like lemon zest. I’m not the type of person who just happens to have lemons laying around and I’m not inclined to go to the trouble of buying another ingredient just so I can use, maybe, 5% of the entire thing and toss the rest. This cookie and my microplane grater changed my mind. The lemon zest thrusts this cookie from the “Eh, so-so” category to a “Oh Woooow! I’ve gotta make that again!” experience. You can usually find lemons for 3 for $1. So the zest cost you about 33 cents. I know it’s a recession, folks … but trust me, the 33 cents is worth it. Buy the lemon. You will thank me later.
To reduce the waistline impact of these cookies, I swapped whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour and replaced half of the flour with almond meal (finely ground almonds). If you can’t find almond meal, just take unblanched whole almonds and grind them in a food processor until the mixture looks like sand. Presto! You’ve got almond meal! Wasn’t that easy? Now go make some cookies for your Fourth of July picnic/BBQ/pool party that you can eat without feeling guilty!
Blueberry Almond Cookies
1 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup almond meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar*
1/4 to 1/3 cup reduced fat milk
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted and cooled
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries**
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt with a whisk or large fork.
- In another medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar (or Splenda) using a hand or stand mixer. Add the egg and beat to incorporate. Add milk, almond extract, and lemon zest.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a rubber spatula. Fold in the toasted almonds. Gently fold in the blueberries. Be careful to avoid over mixing so as not to burst the berries. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Using two small spoons, dollop mix onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or lightly greased. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 14-16 minutes.
- Remove cookies from sheet and cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or eat immediately.
* For this batch I used a 1/2 cup Splenda and 1/2 cup sugar blend. I have previously done batches with a full replacement of the sugar with Splenda. They are plenty sweet but don't brown up around the edges quite as nicely. Feel free to experiment with a balance that works for you.
** If you are using frozen blueberries, I would suggest mixing them into the batter still frozen. This will keep as much of the juice inside the berries as possible. You may still end up with some blue swirls through the batter. The only way I've avoided tinting the batter blue is by using fresh berries. However, the blue color might be really fun for a Fourth of July party!