Bakers worldwide have used almond flour as an alternative to all purpose flour (APF) for ages. Although, almond flour is much more expensive than APF, its health benefits far outweigh those of APF. It is gluten free so is the best alternative for people with gluten allergies or celiac disease. Additionally, it is more nutritious and is packed with the goodness of protein (as high as 21%), vitamin E, mono-unsaturated fats and manganese. It is also low in carbohydrates and contains fibre which is so essential for good digestion.
I prefer to do much of my baking (cakes, cookies, macaroons) with almond flour. Some bakers use almond meal too (the cheaper version) and many first time bakers do not understand the difference. The difference is that almond flour is the crumbly powder created with blanched sweet almonds from which the skin has been removed. Almond meal is created from un-blanched almonds which contain skin as well. It has a darker texture on account of flecks on brown skin in it.
Almond flour is very easy to work with. Since, it has a naturally sweet taste; the recipes use less of sugar and also less butter as the almonds are also naturally rich in oil.
My cranberry cookies made with almond flour with maple syrup is one such recipe. This recipe does not use white sugar as that is substituted by maple syrup or pancake syrup. The cookies are super quick to make and turn out moist and soft. I use cranberries for their anti oxidative properties but you can use blueberries, chocolate chips or any other dried fruit of your choice. The cookies taste delicious whatever you add to them. To spice up the cookie dough I prefer to add a little bit of cardamom powder. Trust me that makes all the difference in this. You can also add a cinnamon powder.
- 2 ½ cups Blanched Almond Flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/3 cup butter melted
- 1/3 cup maple syrup/ pancake syrup
- 1 ½ tablespoon brown sugar (dark or light)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg large (at room temperature)
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Prepare 2-3 large baking sheets (to make 18 medium cookies) and line each one with parchment paper/baking paper. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine almond flour, baking soda, salt and cardamom powder and set aside.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk melted butter and maple syrup/pancake syrup together by hand. There is no need to use an electric whisk in this recipe. Once the mixture is amalgamated, add the egg and vanilla essence and give it a good whisk.
- To the above liquid add dry ingredients and whisk together until combined. Stir in the cranberries.
- The dough obtained will be quite sticky in texture and unlike other cookie dough made with APF. The reason for the stickiness is also the use of maple syrup.
- To bake the cookies, scoop a medium ice cream scoop full of dough and place on the parchment sheet. I prefer to wet my palms and then roll a scoop full between my palms. Once I place it on the baking sheet, I flatten the tops with the back side of a fork. The thickness that we need the cookies to be to ensure that they bake evenly is about 3/8th inch thick. Anything thinner and the cookies will burn on baking. You should be able to get about 7-8 cookies on a round baking tray. Ensure that you leave a 2 inch gap between cookies as they will swell in size as they bake.
- Bake at a 180 degrees C till the edges of the cookies firm up and turn slightly golden. Almond flour burns very fast so keep a watch on the cookies around the 10-12 minute mark. They take about 10-14 minutes max to bake. In a microwave oven the time could increase to about 16-18 minutes.
- Once done remove from heat and let them cool on the tray for five minutes. After that transfer those to a wire rack to cool them completely.
Note – if you do not like your cookies soft but would prefer them crunchier then after they have baked you can microwave them on high for a minute. Allow them to cool before use.