These Almond Cookies are light, tender and full of the sweet taste of almond and the comforting notes of cinnamon & vanilla. To give them an extra fun element, almond slices are pressed into them so that they resemble a pine cone. Or simply flip them around and you have a playful hedgehog. A quick dip in creamy chocolate and a light dusting of powdered sugar finishes them off. So easy to make, but is guaranteed to impress your family and friends.
Well hello there. I absolutely, positively cannot believe that the big C is this weekend. I feel so far behind on everything I had hope to achieve. As a matter of fact, it’s gotten so bad that I finally had to force myself to come to terms with the fact that there is no way I would ever be able to catch up. Sadly, this means I will not be bringing you all the fun and delicious little treats I had originally planned. I’m still trying to put my head around ways to put a non-wintery holiday spin on some of them. Others. . .well. . .as much as it pains me to say it, they’ll just have to wait until next year. Insert sad face.
Part of this is because I have been spending a solid chunk of time on the physical therapy needed to help my wrist and elbow heal. I won’t bore you with that again, but if you aren’t up-to-speed on these happenings, you can venture on over to my previous post.
What’s more, we moved into our new house a couple of months ago. While I have been enjoying my way-more-spacious kitchen, plucking from storage the many nearly forgotten treasures we had curated during our zany travels across the globe and FINALLY having manageable light for photography, I have also been neck deep in an ongoing battle with my oven. Of course, the timing couldn’t be worse with the festive season looming in the background. It is a little difficult to whip up some cake, cookie and pie magic when your oven appears to be waging a full on war against you after all.
Okay. . .I have to admit that it’s not entirely the oven’s faulty. Yes, it did refuse to stay lit in the first two months of us living here. And yes, that resulted in a tragic end to many of my cakes. But part of my baking fails were due to my inexperience with gas ovens which meant I had to learn the ins and outs of baking with this newfound tool. Luckily, I think I have some of the basics down now so we are back to baking business as usual. Fingers crossed!
But before we get into my latest baking adventure, which happens to be these whimsical Pine Cone & Hedgehog Almond Cookies, I wanted to briefly chat about my last post.As you probably have heard me discuss, the Mr. and I have been doing Crossfit for about 6 months now. We were relatively fit when we started, but I can honestly say that Crossfit is the most challenging workout I have ever done. It’s exactly why we started doing it in the first place.
You see. . .about a year ago we decided to brave a blizzard and venture off to a free intro class. They had us running around like crazed fools, inching across the cold floor on our elbows as if we were worms slithering away from a rabid fisherman, and tossing weighted balls up along a wall only to hope that they wouldn’t come crashing back down rendering us unconscious.
My mind and body was begging for the workout to be over. . .but no can do amigo. That was only the warmup. We still had a 9 minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible for you non crossfitters) to do. So I trudged through the rest of the workout, trying my best to play it cool because I didn’t want everyone to know that I was ready to call it quits before the workout had even started.
Yep, I hated crossfit! I mean, I REALLY, REALLY hated it. But as much as I loathed those 30 tortuous minutes, they made me realize that my cardio and endurance left something to be desired. And this was after all the hours I had been logging in at the gym.So after this class, I spent the next couple of months doing high intensity interval training. . . not because it was required, but because I had to build up my courage to even step foot into another crossfit class. I’m happy that I did woman up and return though because the changes it has made to my body (visual & internal) has been incredible.
That said, there is a lot of negative stuff floating out there about Crossfit and I felt that perhaps my last post, and my injuries, may have fed into that.Yes, Crossfit can be a little rough on the body. Like any physical activity, achy muscles and even overtraining can be a reality. But it can also be wonderous for the mind and body.
Crossfit is the only form of exercise that I have ever done that has made me feel comfortable with, and even embrace, my body. Before Crossfit, I didn’t feel comfortable wearing tight workout pants. As a matter of fact, the Mr. used to make fun of the loose, frumpy yoga pants I wore during my workouts. And my arms!!!. . .boy did I hate exposing them.
But in Crossfit, I don’t even think twice about any of that. You see, no one cares if you have cellulite on your thighs. . . or if your arms jiggle. You don’t see size zeros running around. Your body is not being sized up. Instead you see men and women of all sizes. And every single one of them is strong, confident and has the stamina and endurance that most would admire. I’ve seen women who would be scoffed at. . .labeled “fat” in a traditional gym environment. These very same women are celebrated at crossfit, not for their appearance. . .but for their strength because they could snatch an incredible amount of weight and do countless pull-ups. . .and with a weighted vest on no less!!!So yeah. . .there is negative press about Crossfit but where else are you taught that the bodies of men and women of all sizes are strong and beautiful.
Phew! Now that I got that off my chest, let’s move on to cookies because I’m sure you currently have cookies on the brain.
These Pine Cone & Hedgehog Almond Cookies were supposed to be part of a #VirtualCookieExchange that yours truly was hosting; however, I couldn’t get my act together given my oven drama so I had to bow out of the party. The good news is that I am providing the links to all the participating bloggers below so that you can get even more last minute cookie inspiration.
Now, these Pine Cone & Hedgehog Almond Cookies may look super fancy and complicated but I assure you they are very easy to whip up in an afternoon. If you can roll out cookie dough, then you are golden. And the good news is that this dough is particularly easy to work with. It’s not sticky like some other cookie doughs.
I used a tear drop shape to cut out my Pine Cone & Hedgehog Almond Cookies, but if you don’t have a tear drop cookie cutter on hand. . .hakuna mata. You can use a round cookie or biscuit cutter. Or, you could even use a drinking glass as a makeshift cookie cutter in a pinch. Use what you have and run with it because they will be super cute regardless.I also recommend buying some extra almond slices so that you can dig through and find the best ones. Keep in mind that it’s okay if one end is messed up a bit because you’ll be pushing it into the dough anyhow.
To give these Pine Cone & Hedgehog Almond Cookies a little extra sweetness, I sprinkled sanding sugar in between the almonds. This also gives the cookies a bit of fun color. But it’s totally optional . . .so let your creative juices flow. You can see that I sprinkled powdered sugar on top of some of the cookies.
Well, that’s it for now as I’m pretty sure you have a ton still left to do for the holidays. As promised, more cookie inspiration is below.
Virtual Holiday Cookie Exchange
What Should I Eat For • Ugly Sweater Gingerbread Cookies
The Sweet Nerd • Gingerbread Cookies – All Spruced Up
Girl Heart Food • Orange Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies
The Beach House Kitchen • Hot Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies
Beyond Mere Sustenance • Brandy-Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate
Seasons & Suppers • Lemon Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
Ciao Chow Bambina • Lemon Drop Italian Cookies
Contemplating Sweets • Hedgehog Cookies
The Busy Spatula • S’mores Cookies
Salt & Lavender • Vegan Gingerbread Cookie Bars
Meg Is Well • Bradshaw Cookies: A Sour Cream Cookie with Cream Cheese Frosting
Happy Holidays! And we’ll talk soon.
P.S. If you enjoyed your time at The Road to Honey, I would love for you to join me on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest . In addition, you can receive updates from The Road to Honey directly to your inbox by entering your e-mail address in the box in the top right corner. See you soon.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cold
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp vanilla
- confectioners sugar, for dusting during rolling
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- sanding sugar, optional for decoration
- 5 ounces chocolate or dark cocoa candy melts
- 1 -2 tsp coconut oil, if needed
Place rack in the center of the oven & Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut butter into 1 tablespoon cubes.
Place butter & sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Start by beating on low, then slowly increase the speed to medium high. Beat until smooth & creamy.
Scrape down the bowl & paddle attachment.
Beat in eggs until fully incorporated.
Scrape down the bowl & paddle attachment.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder, salt & nutmeg.
With the mixer on low, slowly add a little of the flour mixture. Mix just until dough comes together.
Add vanilla & almond extracts & mix until incorporated.
Divide the dough up evenly into 4 flattened disks. Wrap 3 of the rounds with plastic wrap & place them in the refrigerator until ready to use. This will make cutting out the dough easier & will help prevent the dough from getting too soft to work with or drying out.
Place the fourth round on a piece of parchment paper lightly dusted with confectioners sugar.
Lightly dust the top of the dough with confectioners sugar & place a second piece of parchment paper on top of it.
Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.
Use a 2-inch teardrop shaped cookie cutter cut out the pinecone/ hedgehog shapes.
Remove the excess dough & place the cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Be sure to space about 2 inches apart.
For the Pinecone: Press the tips of about 10 almond slices at an angle into the narrower side of the teardrop.
For the Hedgehogs: Press about 15 almond slice at an angle into the wider end of the tear drop shape.
Sprinkle sanding sugar in between the almond slices, if desired.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the rack in the center of the oven & preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are set & they are starting to brown slightly on the bottom. Note: You may need to adjust your baking time depending on how thick you roll your cookies.
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Repeat with the remaining 3 rounds of dough.
Place the chocolate in a microwaveable bowl and microwave on 50% power in 30 second increments, stirring in between each increment. Be careful not to burn the chocolate.
If the chocolate is still too thick, add a couple of teaspoons of coconut oil until you achieve the desired consistency.
For the Pine Cones: Dip the wide end of the pine cone in the chocolate. Once you remove the pine cone from the chocolate, move if back in forth to avoid drips.
Allow the chocolate to dry. For my pinecones, I set up some chopsticks on parchment paper. I then propped the narrow side of the pine cones up on the chopstick so that the chocolate did to touch the surface.
For the Hedgehogs: Use any leftover chocolate from above (be sure the chocolate has cooled enough that it doesn't run), or if you are only making hedgehog, melt a couple of ounces of chocolates to pipe out eyes & a nose (you will need less chocolate than needed for the pine cones).
Place the chocolate in a plastic bag & snip off the end. Pipe two eyes & a nose on the narrow end of the tear drop. Note: You need to work fast so that the chocolate doesn't solidify. If it becomes too stiff to work with you can carefully run the bag under warm water; however, you need to take great care to avoid water coming in contact with the chocolate. This will ruin the chocolate.
Finish off by sprinkling some sanding sugar between the almonds and/or powdered sugar. (Optional)