Flo Braker's Pains D’Amande

By • December 9, 2011 44 Comments

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Author Notes: A crisp almond cookie for all your holiday gifting, swapping, and impressing needs, from Sweet Miniatures by Flo Braker (Chronicle Books, 2000).Genius Recipes

Makes about 7 dozen cookies

  • 2 1/3 cups (325 grams) unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into quarters
  • 1 1/3 cups (280 grams) Hawaiian washed raw sugar (or turbinado or demerara -- see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 ounces (1 cup) sliced almonds
  1. Sift the flour and baking soda onto a sheet of waxed paper; set aside.
  2. In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan over low heat, combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and water. Stir occasionally just until the butter melts. Do not allow the mixture to boil. David Lebovitz recommends not letting the sugar melt thoroughly -- the crunchy bits make for wonderful texture in the cookie. Remove from heat and stir in the almonds. Pour this mixture into a 3-quart mixing bowl; set aside for about 30 minutes at room temperature until lukewarm, about 90 degrees F.
  3. Add the dry ingredients all at once; stir thoroughly until blended.
  4. Press the soft dough into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pan, preferably straight-sided (such as a 1 1/2 quart Pyrex loaf pan) lined with plastic wrap. Cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until firm.
  5. Adjust rack to lower third of oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two large cool baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Lift out the firm dough from the pan onto a cutting board. For larger cookies, simply slice as thinly as you can, crosswise. For smaller cookies, cut dough in half crosswise and then cut the halves lengthwise into thirds. Using a sharp knife, cut each bar into 1/8-inch or thinner slices, and space them 1/4 inch apart on the baking sheets. (The dough slices as though it were fudge.) You can use a sawing action with a serrated knife in order to cut through the nuts to make very thin slices.
  7. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the undersides are light golden; then turn cookies over and bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, or until crisp and honey-colored. Place baking sheet on a wire rack to cool. Lift cookies from parchment when cool.
  8. Stack cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature up to 10 days.
  9. Note: Hawaiian washed raw sugar is available in supermarkets in 2-pound plastic bags. If you cannot locate it, you can substitute turbinado or demerara.

Tags: cookies

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Comments (44) Questions (5)


over 1 year ago Camilla

A chilli added to the mixture takes this recipe to another level - am going to try adding lavender next - thanks for posting!


almost 2 years ago Lunadalutti

Besides the fact they're delicious, I have to mention that these cookies pretty much saved a man's life. My uncle was undergoing a very tough health treatment for Hepatitis C, and the meds simply ruined his appetite. He literally could not ingest anything at all for 2 days after his shots, and would eat tiny portions of a very restricted array of foods he could barely stand to swallow. But then he had a go and tried these cookies. That's the only thing he would eat with some pleasure. So thank you for sharing!!! Really!!!!


over 1 year ago Ashley Marie

That's a beautiful story! I hope your Uncle is doing well!


7 months ago Lunadalutti

Hi Ashley! The good news is that my uncle beat the Hep and now presents a zero viral count. And has resumed his life, teaching, surfing and playing guitar. Every year when I bake these for the holidays I think of him, and of you! Have a lovely year!


about 2 years ago Hilarybee

I wrote about this on the hotline, but I used the cookies more like crackers, and served them with a cheese plate. Brie, goat cheese with honey and cracked pink pepper; a stilton with lemon zest. It was a really nice course.


about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Such a great idea -- how did you modify the cookie recipe to make it more savory? Thank you!


over 2 years ago student epicure

Yum! Just made these after letting them freeze overnight. They are the perfect cookie to go with tea, as they get all nice and crisp and are delicious dunked in a cup of Earl Grey. I appreciated the sugary-buttery simplicity, but think the recipe would make a delightful base for my adventurous flavors.


over 2 years ago Sarag

Oh my goodness. I made them g-f, with vanilla and salt, no cinnamon. Fantastic. Cannot stop eating them.


over 2 years ago weshook

Just baked these up for a bakesale. I've been wanting to try them and finally got around to making them. Mixed up the dough before work this morning and pulled them out of the refrigerator to bake this evening. Came together perfectly--perhaps because I didn't have time to over mix. I think that I will freeze the dough next time so I can slice thinner and add a hint of salt to temoer the sweetness. Delicious!


over 2 years ago mknubel

I made a cookie similar to this years ago from a Martha Stewart recipe, and she spoke to the crumbling dough issue. It comes from over mixing and overhandling of the dough. The second the dough comes together, stop mixing it and press it together with as few motions as possible, the pressing actually finishes the mixing process. My first batch of these were crumbly, but my second and third batches got better as I learned how to (not) handle the dough.


almost 3 years ago Chef Neen

Has anyone tried adding amaretto or almond extract to enhance the almond flavor?


over 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Yes, it's great! Also, toast the almond slices first.


almost 3 years ago brooklynite

I made a batch using the original recipe, and like lots of reviewers, thought it could use some zip. My next batch was done with orange blossom water, cardamom to replace the cinnamon, and a dash of salt--delicious! I've got some uncrystallized candied ginger now, and am thinking of adding that. Any suggestions on what to use to replace the cinnamon? I have in the house: vanilla, almond, and lemon extracts, lemon zest, fresh and ground ginger. Or would anything beyond the candied ginger be too much?


about 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Last night, my husband asked me to buy chocolate graham crackers to have in the house for a snack with coffee. (Seriously, do you think he was trying to get me to bake something? Because it doesn't take much for me to get out the mixing bowls and the parchment.) I remembered this recipe and thought I could modify it. After reading all the comments, I decided to add 1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt and vanilla to the batter. I also don't like cinnamon that much, but I like it with other spices, so I used Chinese 5-spice powder instead. And I added 3/4 cup of dutch process cocoa powder to the dry ingredients. The cookies are great. And I say this with some dismay, because I don't usually eat much of what I bake, and I can't stop eating these. I used a very sharp Santoku knife and had no issue with crumbling. (I also weighed the flour rather than doing volume measurement.) The salt and vanilla extract (as well as the cocoa) really amped up the flavor. I sprinkled a few with cinnamon and sugar also, and that was good too! And because this makes so many cookies, I have a brick of dough in the freezer for the next time someone pops over. Thanks so much for finding this recipe, Kristen, and to Rivka for recommending it--it is going to be a family favorite.


about 3 years ago Vid mom

look delicious...my guess is you can roll them into logs as well? Can't wait to try !


about 3 years ago MaryMaryCulinary

I finally got around to making these and it was worth the wait! I replaced the cinnamon with cardamom and had no problems with crumbling dough. I sliced a few cookies too thick, and they were downright hard, but the thin ones are fantastic.


over 3 years ago DanaYares

These are DELICIOUS!!! Even my husband who is a strict chewy chocolate cookie eater loves these. THis dough could easily be made ahead and frozen and cut as needed.



over 3 years ago msgruvn

1st time i followed recipe exactly--froze 1/2 and baked wks later. this time i added 1/2 c almonds, 1/2 c coconut, and 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/4 t ginger and 1/8 t ea nutmeg and cloves.....wonderful! sort of like the windmill cookies i had as a kid. i put it in the freezer for 1/2 hr to make it easier to slice really thin.


over 3 years ago Panfusine

Have a batch made with almond, Pistachio & orange zest baking right now!


over 3 years ago Aliwaks

Made these with a little change in recipe, I somehow left my sliced almonds somewhere and used 2
Cups toasted sesame seeds because that was all I had on hand and they were awesome! Very similar to Benne Wafers, now that I have once again located the tub of almonds going to try again and use them as a garnish for poached pears w chocolate ganache.


over 3 years ago Cookie!

Made these for the first time for Christmas Eve dinner - an absolutely wonderful recipe that looked and tasted spectacular. A keeper for sure!


over 3 years ago sabele

I made these over the weekend and they were a big hit with the visiting family; I had no problems with crumbling.

My only comment would be that the cookies should be sliced as thin as possible. I sliced the first tray's worth at 1/8" and they were definitely too thick and didn't have the right texture. The next time I tried just to sliver off the dough (and dreamt of having a meat slicer) and they were perfect! The slices definitely curled as they came off the main part, but they came out great. The catch is that I had to sacrifice a bit of the batter at the end of the loaf because I couldn't slice it without including my fingers...


over 3 years ago sweetonion

I am afraid of baking and these cookies have made me a member of the "making cookies for Christmas gifts" club. Thank you. I am beginning to get feedback and it's all good! I followed recipe and used a big wonderful serrated knife. No problems at all. I am thinking of experimenting by dipping half of a cooled cookie in chocolate for a change, but this cookie is really a winner for me.


over 3 years ago Sarah Stone

Cooking time on silicone sheets (Silpat) was 8-10 minutes each side, no different from that recommended for baking these cookies on parchment. I agree with other reviewers who find the flavor of these understated crisps just a bit too simple. A sprinkling of kosher salt on the top before baking helps cut the too-sweetness. If I make them again, I'll omit the cinnamon and try adding vanilla extract.


over 3 years ago msgruvn

this goes together so easily -i made these 3 days ago and did one tray-then finished the rest tonight. they sliced pretty well just out of the fridge-not perfect but fine. i like tokyo yum's idea of the balls flattened by a glass...rustic is good. i will make these again (and again)-i think i will add more spice next time...cardamom, or orange& ginger?


over 3 years ago MrsBeeton

I have made several batches of these now, with pretty much perfect results. I have found that the thinner they are (almost so thin you can see through them), the better. And I love the almond crunch and taste. I think that if you didn't want the cinnamon flavor (which I like, but I can understand not liking it) perhaps you could add a little almond extract for a more almond-y flavor. In fact, I might try that with my next batch.


over 3 years ago cate

Another member of the "the dough just crumbled on me" crowd. I'm managing to salvage a few cookies but most of the batter turned into crumbs. Rats.


over 3 years ago EmilyC

Made these yesterday with great results. The dough came together easily and they were so easy to thinly slice after about 90 minutes in the freezer. As a few others have commented, I was expecting a slightly richer tasting cookie upon first bite. The cinnamon is subtle, and while you can taste the butter, they don't have a distinct butter flavor (which makes sense given that 1 stick of butter isn't that much for so many cookies!). The more I eat them, the more I love them...I like the fact that they're light, crisp, almost airy -- and they practically cry out for a strong espresso or cup of hot tea.


over 3 years ago GigiHoney

First time making these, they turned out perfectly! Delicious, thank you!


over 3 years ago zindc

I didn't have a problem with crumbling, I chilled the loaf pan for a couple of hours on my unheated service porch and the slices were quite neat. But when I tasted the first batch after it had cooled, I found the flavor kind of flat. I think it needs some vanilla or almond extract in the dough, and a sprinkling of sugar and a little bit of salt on top. The second tray was already in the oven by that time, so I sprinkled cinnamon, sugar and salt on the second tray's cookies, when I turned them over.


over 3 years ago Celestyyne

Made these for a party yesterday and they turned out fantastic! I prepped the dough in the evening, left it in the fridge overnight and baked them the next morning. After reading the issues others had with crumbling, I left them on the counter for about 15 mins before slicing them and the consistency was like a firm fudge. A sharp Santoku knife worked perfectly. I found it very important to slice them as thinly as possible, if they're even close to 1/4 inch they turn out very hard and almost difficult to bite through. That magical 1/8inch thickness causes them to bake up perfectly crisp and delicate without falling apart when handling.

A few ideas for those with the crumbling issues - don't freeze the dough, try the fridge. Make sure you're measuring your flour by spooning and leveling rather than packing. The recipe calls for stirring thoroughly when adding the dry ingreds- not using a mixer (maybe overmixing is causing toughness in the dough). I used a plastic spatula by hand and had success. These are worth another try!!


over 3 years ago Flavorista

I baked up my first sheet of these tonight, what a lovely sophisticated cookie. They sliced and baked up as instructed and made a wonderful hostess gift. Thanks for the recipe.


over 3 years ago MrsMehitabel

I have a batch of these cooling right now, and I must say, while they are very crunchy and delicious, they are not quite as fabulous as I had hoped. The flavor just doesn't have the elegance I had anticipated. It's largely the cinnamon- I don't really love cinnamon, especially in large amounts, but one never knows when to substitute for something one likes better, and when to trust the recipe writer. Since this is such a unique recipe and has undergone so much laborious R&D (and since David Lebovitz's thumb is up) I decided to trust the writer and only halve the cinnamon, instead of following my instinct and using almond extract or vanilla or even nutmeg as flavoring instead. The taste reminds me vaguely of those animal cookies that Trader Joe's sells in a tub, shaped like cats. One other commenter suggested using cardomom instead, and that sounds delicious- that's what will happen to my next batch, for sure.


over 3 years ago MrsMehitabel

Oh, also, mine stuck rather badly to the paper, and then to the pan, when I decided to do some without paper. David Lebovits says that you can use silicone sheets and increase the cooking time, so I'm thinking you could just do the first side on the silicone sheets and then, when you flip them, leave the sheets off and they probably wouldn't stick.


over 3 years ago nutcakes

I made these and chilled the dough overnight. It wasn't possible to slice thinly, since it was a bit too soft. It also didn't stay in perfect rectangles, more like tongues. However we like them, as crunchy and hard as they are when thick. Great with a hot beverage and I will try again and be more careful on my measurements, just in case that's it I will weigh. I'm always looking for egg free baking for my allergic friend so I hope it is tagged so.


over 3 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I'm so sorry to hear that that some of you have had issues with the dough crumbling -- if it's not an issue of flour measurement (if going by volume instead of weight, it's possible that your flour is more densely packed, and the batter would be drier), I'm not sure what it could be. Are you trying to slice from a block that's frozen solid? Perhaps it does need to come down in temperature a bit. When we sliced ours at the shoot, it had been frozen for about an hour but it wasn't frozen solid (and Braker says it should slice like fudge). You can compare to ours in the slideshow above.


over 3 years ago Tokyo Yum

Mine crumbled too. I think I may use the Cooks Illustrated trick and add a little vodka (1-2 tsps) when I make batter next time. This time, however, I am in way too much of a hurry trying to get my xmas boxes together to redo this! I am making 5 g balls and putting them on parchment lined cookie tray & covering with another piece of parchment. Looked for something round, flat and heavy to use to flatten the balls. Found that all of my glasses, actually do not have flat bottoms and settled for my personal thermos cup! Since, instruction says thinner than 1/8 ok, I just smashed away. Worked great. Not as nice as perfect oblongs - but good enough to bag!


over 3 years ago JaneEYB

I don't quite understand why but there are two posts and two comments threads going on this one recipe on Food52. The other one has a lot more photos and comments so you should hop over there! http://www.food52.com/blog...


over 3 years ago swscovell

I also made these and they crumbled when sliced!


over 3 years ago jaypea

thanks very much to both JaneEYB & ejm for contributing feedback. WIll have a look at the lebovitz link for mine own edification and retry recipe with more care re the measurements, methinks perhaps was just enough of too much flour. Thanks again!!!


over 3 years ago JaneEYB

Flo posted this recipe on David Lebovitz's site a couple of years ago with lots of photos and the dough looked quite firm and easy to slice there. http://www.davidlebovitz... The one difference with the recipe here is that she has 1 and 1/3 cups of sugar being 300g though I don't think that would make any difference on the issues you are having.


over 3 years ago ejm

I just cut mine and if anything after about 24 hours in the fridge they were a bit softer than I expected - if you are certain the flour is the right amount were you maybe off on the butter? Not sure what else to expect but based on my limited experience seems like some measurement almost has to be off.... Good luck


over 3 years ago jaypea

in relation to comment posted earlier, a photo of the dough after attempting slicing into wafers. Seemed very "dry", perhaps too much flour ? (certain of my measuring only the prescribed amount), Am assuming the loaf should be sliced once removed from the mold, and not necessary to come to room temp after refrigerating (as this dough was, overnite) or freezing.


over 3 years ago jaypea

Attempted this overnite, performing all the prep last evening, using turbinado sugar, refrigerating the dough overnite, removed the "loaf" from the pyrex mold this morning and, goshdarnitall, had the unfortunate experience of having the dough crumble apart while attempting to slice it into wafers, regardless of using serrated or cook's knife (both excellent knives and sharpness not an issue with either). Can provide photos if it helps determine where I might have gone wrong.