Chocolate Covered Almond Cookies

Grrrrreetings friends! You know that normally this blog is about me (the most adorable little white dog you ever did see) and Levi (the most handsome big black dog in the world) on our many adventures, both near and far. Well, today I am handing the reins over to MaMa so she can blog about some cookies she made that I’m not even allowed to eat! That doesn’t seem fair at all, but since she is the one who types my blogs, I guess I don’t really have a choice, do I? Take it away, MaMa!

Chocolate Covered Almond Cookies made with almond butter.

How nice of GiGi to let me use her blog. I’ll have to make sure I give her an extra treat today for being so unselfish! I hope you don’t mind a break from GiGi’s travels and adventures, while I share this delicious cookie recipe with you instead.

I’ve been baking cookies for well over 30 years! I started with chocolate chip cookies when I was so little I could barely see over the top of the counter. I graduated to rolling and cutting out sugar cookies, all with assistance from my Mom of course. Eventually I moved on to peanut butter, snickerdoodle, and other more adventurous cookies as I got older.

Despite having baked 1000’s of cookies over the years, I had never been inspired to create my own recipe. I think I’d heard from one too many sources that baking was a science and you had to be extremely precise or everything would go horribly wrong. Hearing that for years, I never even thought I would be knowledgeable enough to create my own cookie recipe. I mean it is basically a science experiment and Science was my WORST subject in school. I had been content to look up recipes in my cookbooks and online. I’d always get excited trying out a new recipe I’d found, and testing it out on family and friends. Baking is like therapy to me. You can forget all your worries when you’re measuring sugar, whipping up butter or cracking an egg. I remember one Christmas season when I was trying to get over a guy (before I met Pops), I made no fewer than a dozen different types of cookies in less than two weeks. Like I said, it’s therapy.

Recently I’ve been branching out and baking things I’ve never made. In the last three months, I baked a chocolate cake, red velvet cupcakes, and half a dozen different kinds of muffins, as well as three or four new types of cookies, all from scratch, and all for the first time. And you know what? Everything turned out great! Oh, and how could I forget?! I made my very first cheesecake over Christmas, and despite it ballooning up in the oven, and freaking me out that it was going to explode, it came out great, and everyone who tried it said it was as good as Eli’s Cheesecake. Some people said it was even better!

Almond Cookies dipped in Chocolate Ganache.

Perhaps it was all those recent successes that motivated me to create my own cookie recipe, or maybe it was something as simple as an abandoned jar of almond butter. Pops had bought it one day, thinking it was his special peanut butter. When he realized it wasn’t, it sat in the cabinet for months, un-opened, beckoning me each time I opened the cabinet door to reach for another ingredient. Because I hate to see food go uneaten, and I didn’t believe Pops when he said he would eat it, I started thinking about making cookies with it. I’ve made plenty of peanut butter cookies, and I’ve even made a couple different kinds of almond cookies. I’ve never made an almond butter cookie though, so I began searching for a recipe online.

While I was out shopping one day, I purchased a container of almond paste, assuming that any almond cookie recipe I found would certainly have almond paste in it. Now, here I was with almond butter and almond paste sitting in my cabinet, waiting to be made into something yummy! Yet my search for a suitable recipe, containing both ingredients, was futile! Despite scrolling through page after page on Google, I couldn’t find one single recipe that had almond paste and almond butter. How could this be possible!?

Eventually I gave up my search and started thinking about whether or not I could make my own recipe. Seriously, I must have learned SOMETHING in all those years of baking. And every recipe had to be devised by SOMEONE. And I’m willing to bet, they weren’t all good at Science!

Once I decided to create my own recipe, I got excited! And nervous. What if they didn’t turn out? Then I realized it didn’t matter. That nobody would know except for me and Pops. It was a risk I was willing to take to make a delicious almond cookie. Besides, if I failed, I would learn something in the process! What not to do when making an almond cookie…

So I started thinking about quantities, and thinking, and thinking. In the end, I used what I knew from other cookie recipes, and I listened to my intuition. The voice inside me that knew exactly what needed to go inside these almond cookies. And below is what it told me:

Almond Cookie Recipe made with Almond Butter and Almond Paste.

After the cookies came out of the oven, I couldn’t wait long before giving them a try. And you’ve probably guessed by now that they were delicious, otherwise I wouldn’t have dedicated an entire blog to them! They have such a rich almond flavor, and the perfect texture. They are neither too hard or too soft. They didn’t crack while baking either, like peanut butter cookies tend to do. Even though they were amazing on their own, and didn’t need anything to enhance them, I still decided to dip them in ganache, because, you know, why not?! I’d had two bars of baking chocolate (4 ounces of bittersweet and 4 ounces of semi-sweet) in my cabinet since Christmas, and some left-over cream (3/4 cup) from a dinner I’d made earlier in the week. I combined all of that in a double boiler on my stove until all of the chocolate had melted and it was a nice, smooth consistency, and then I began dunking away.

Chocolate Covered Almond Cookies reflected in Kitchen Aid mixer.

I thought the cookies would look cool (and a little bit like GiGi and Levi lying next to each other) if they were half and half. I think I was right! Besides, they are easier to make and eat if the whole cookie isn’t covered in chocolate.

Inspired by my white dog and my black dog!

So, there you go, now you know the story behind the creation of my Chocolate Covered Almond Cookies. I hope you will give them a try, and let me know what you think! Next week we will be back to our regularly scheduled Travel Tuesday, but who knows, this Tasty Tuesday blog might be back if inspiration grabs hold of me again!

Thank you for reading, and happy baking!

Awesome Arizona Adventure: Let’s Play Ball!

After climbing Lookout Mountain, we all needed a break, so Pops thought it would be fun to check out a baseball field where Spring training was in progress! The field we were closest to is in Peoria, where the San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners practice and play their pre-season games.

We had fun walking around the facilities and even saw some baseball players practicing!

Little dogs and big dogs both like to watch Spring Training!
Little dogs and big dogs both like to watch Spring Training!

Levi walked right up to the fence, figuring if the manager saw him, he would be drafted on the spot.

“It’s worth a shot!” he said, “I’m great with balls!” and then he turned around and gave me his best Pitboxer smile.

Levi Pitboxer has the best smile!
Levi Pitboxer has the best smile!

“A lot better than you are, right short stuff? Unless they are looking for a ‘short’ stop!!” he said and laughed.

I didn’t see the humor in that statement at all…

Little, white dogs don't see the humor in short girl jokes!
Little, white dogs don’t see the humor in short girl jokes!

On our way around the park, I started getting hot. It is the desert, after all, so I started looking around for a place to cool off. It didn’t take long for me to find the perfect spot!

Little white dogs need to cool off frequently!
Little white dogs need to cool off frequently!

I might not be great at fetching and catching balls, but I sure am good at sitting on them. I’d like to see Levi Pitboxer try to do that! Fat chance of that ever happening!

After I felt up to walking around again, we found our way to the ticket booth and I was first in line to get the very best seats, but then MaMa told me that dogs aren’t allowed in the ballparks. That was really bad news. I mean, all that beautiful green grass…such a waste!

"Why can't little dogs go to baseball games?"
“Why can’t little dogs go to baseball games?”

As we were leaving the park, we saw a sign for a restaurant and Levi couldn’t help but make one last quip, when he suggested I stand in front of the sign, because I was the saltiest Senorita he knew!

“You’ve got the right color AND the right disposition, GiGi!!” he barked out loud. I had to agree that I was a bit salty at times, so I played along and let him take my picture.

I guess a little white dog can also be a Salty Senorita!
I guess a little white dog can also be a Salty Senorita!

Eventually it was time to go home so MaMa and Pops could go visit their friend. While they were there, they met some authentic Arizona pups! I sure wish I could have tagged along…they looked like super nice dogs, and I’m sure they could have told me what it’s like to live in Arizona year-round. I mean, I was curious how hot it really got there in the summer!

Cute little Arizona dogs getting some attention from Pops.
Cute little Arizona dogs getting some attention from Pops.

When they got home that night, Pops thought it would be nice to take us to see another ballpark. So we all hopped in the car and went to the field shared by the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers in Surprise. We arrived right around sunset, so it was nice and cool and I was ready to explore.

Little, white dogs love to explore at sunset.
Little, white dogs love to explore at sunset.

As we were walking around, we noticed that the gates were open to the practice fields, so Levi and I decided we should walk in and look around. Who would stop us, right?

DSC01853

While exploring the park, we saw was a sign for the 2015 World Series champions, the Kansas City Royals. We were just about to take a picture with it, when a security guard started walking towards us. Before we could get a good shot, Levi skulked off, while I stared at the guy, challenging him to say something to us.

Little white dog stands up to authority, while big black dog backs down!
Little white dog stands up to authority, while big black dog backs down!

Which is exactly what he did! He asked MaMa and Pops what we were doing there, and told us the area we were in was off limits. Ooops! MaMa thought quickly and decided to play the ignorant tourist card, and told him we’d seen the open gates and didn’t know we weren’t supposed to walk through there. He was nice to us after that, and even escorted us out of the park!

Surprise Stadium at night.
Surprise Stadium at night.

Our last day in Arizona sure was adventurous! After our run in with the security guard, it looked like we’d only be able to check out the ballpark from behind bars, but at least we hadn’t been thrown in jail!

Little white dog and big black dog behind bars!
Little white dog and big black dog behind bars!
Little white dog and big black dog not allowed inside Surprise Stadium.
Little white dog and big black dog not allowed inside Surprise Stadium.