Flo Braker's Pains D’Amande

December 9, 2011

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 1 cup (3 ounces) sliced almonds
In This Recipe

Directions

  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° 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° 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.

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Reviews (60) Questions (5)

60 Reviews

chefmacgregor November 29, 2018
This recipe is PERFECT as written. I have been making this recipe for almost 10 years and many folks for whom I bake them insist that they are their favorite cookie. Flo is a Queen and I have all of her books. Make sure to use the best butter you can afford and fresh almonds. I do always lightly toast the almonds first. The slicing is painstaking but the thinner the better! Such a sophisticated cookie.
 
jy2nd July 30, 2018
I prefer plain cookies and ones that aren’t too sweet. Love almond. These sounded as if they’d be perfect. unfortunately I find them extremely blah. I have folks coming for a meeting tonight and wouldn’t be happy serving these. Msking some lemon and lavender shortbreads instead. Disappointed, but I see others felt the same way. Should have heeded them.
 
May April 24, 2017
Lovely and delicious cookies. I made 2 versions - Spicy Almond and Coconut Lime. I spiced up my Almond cookies with 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp chili (because I like spicy)! For the Coconut Lime version, I substituted toasted shredded coconut, zest of 2 limes, and lime juice (for the almonds, cinnamon, and water), then rolled in poppy seeds before wrapping on plastic and chilling. After chilling until firm, I cut 1/8" slices and baked on parchment paper. Both cookies turned out excellent, they were thin and crispy. Make sure to space at least 1/4" apart as they expand a little while baking. For those people who had problems with dry dough, weigh your flour. For me, 325 grams of floor was about 2-1/8 cups. I baked half of each batch and froze the rest for when I need a quick cookie. I think I'll try sesame seeds next time. An excellent and versatile recipe. Thank you!
 
Amy November 6, 2016
I did not like these cookies. Bland flavor, just felt like a grease bomb in my stomach. I think there are more flavorful options when looking for a simple cookie.
 
Tracy September 4, 2016
Delicious....I used brown sugar/white sugar combo since I didn't have enough demara sugar on hand. I also probably sliced them a bit thicker than necessary. I love the crunch and mild cinnamon flavor; hI don't really taste the almonds.
 
Melanie April 20, 2016
Just love these! Made again with drabs' adaptations (chinese 5 spice, cocoa powder, kosher salt & vanilla). Excellent!
 
jelloooojen April 3, 2016
These cookies turned out more like a crispier almond shortbread. After reading some of the comments below, I used 280g of flour, of which half cake flour, half AP, then I used 65 grams of almond meal to enhance the almond flavor. I also toasted the almonds before I tossed them into the butter and sugar mixture. I personally try to reduce sugar as much as possible so I only used 1 cup of sugar.<br />These are great for snacks or an afternoon pick me up :) Thank you for the amazing recipe <br />
 
Michelle D. January 6, 2016
I've only remembered to do that for a handful of the batches Iv'e made, and haven't noticed any difference. Not that I want to question a genius recipe...
 
Ghazzzit January 6, 2016
Oldunc, I've only had them break when turning if I've sliced them very thinly. Take the flip slow and keep the cookie close to the pan (rather than tossing it in the air like a pancake!) and they'll turn out great.
 
Smaug January 8, 2016
Turning them proved no problem; just leave a little maneuvering room when laying them out. They actually brown on the bottom first, making it a little difficult how to judge when, but it doesn't seem to be critical. Very easy to make, but the results were really, really crisp- a bit much for my father's 93 year old teeth, actually. I tried on the second batch cutting them a little thicker and cooking them a little less, but it made no significant difference. I may try some tweaks; maybe some ground almonds, to make a cookie dad can handle better (he's hooked on Trader Joe's Almond Windmills), but of course that would make an entirely different cookie. It's tempting to mess with a recipe this simple- a few have suggested some almond extract, a substance very easily overdone, and I think there's plenty of almond flavor; the cinnamon comes through surprisingly strong; some might find it imbalanced. I like the flavor; it's mild (about the strength of a graham cracker, not that they TASTE like graham crackers) but quite definite- if I was going to add anything, maybe a hint of orange peel or something like that.
 
Smaug January 13, 2016
I tried some variations to make these a little easier to chew. I varied several ingredients slightly; it would have been better science to try them separately, but there are only so many sample batches a home cook can do. At any rate, I was pretty pleased with the result; the dough is a bit more fragile, but manageable, and the resulting cookies still have plenty of snap, but are tenderer than the original. The variations; 1) I used 1/2 cake flour, 1/2 AP 2) Doubled the baking powder 3) Used tangerine juice in place of water (could also have used water + cream of tartar, but I thought the flavor worked well). And 4) added 3oz. ground almonds. The method is the same.
 
Smaug January 6, 2016
Alright, going to give it a try, but I have to say the part where you turn them over in the middle of baking sort of worries me.
 
Michelle D. January 1, 2016
Great recipe. I reduce the sugar to one cup, add a pinch of salt and some cardamom. I love having the dough in the freezer and slicing off and baking when the urge hits! (Unbaked Tartine scones are another favorite freeze and bake treat).
 
patrick December 25, 2015
I don't usually comment on stuff on the internet but these cookies are so amazing they deserve some recognition. Thanks a lot for the recipe!
 
Melanie December 21, 2015
Made these w/drbabs' suggestion of vanilla, kosher salt, chinese 5 spice powder and cocoa powder. Mixed up last evening, popped into the fridge overnight and baking this morning. Delicious! I love crispy, so the thinner I slice, the better the cookie. Going into regular rotation. Another reviewer suggested coconut (unsweetened), and one mentioned cardamom. All worthy suggestions! Great crispy cookie!
 
Wilma December 14, 2015
These are amazing! Utterly addictive. I made them exactly as instructed, using Demerara sugar. The recipe is fool proof and the cookies are DEVINE!
 
Camilla December 14, 2013
A chilli added to the mixture takes this recipe to another level - am going to try adding lavender next - thanks for posting!
 
Lunadalutti October 13, 2013
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!!!!
 
Ashley M. November 22, 2013
That's a beautiful story! I hope your Uncle is doing well!
 
Lunadalutti January 5, 2015
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!
 
Hilarybee May 5, 2013
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.
 
Kristen M. May 6, 2013
Such a great idea -- how did you modify the cookie recipe to make it more savory? Thank you!
 
student E. December 17, 2012
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.
 
Sarag December 15, 2012
Oh my goodness. I made them g-f, with vanilla and salt, no cinnamon. Fantastic. Cannot stop eating them.
 
weshook December 1, 2012
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!