Who Knew Clouds Are So Chewy?: Almond Cloud Cookies

The last recipe I tried for Passover this year was "Almond Cloud Cookies" from King Arthur Flour. I had high hopes for these cookies, as almond is pretty much my favorite flavor on the planet. The batter only takes a few minutes to put together; you mix together almond paste, sugar, and salt, incorporate egg whites, and then add almond extract and bitter almond oil. You scoop out the dough (I used a #50 scoop), sprinkle the dough generously with powdered sugar, make three indentations on top of the cookies, and bake.

Most of the powdered sugar that I sprinkled on the cookies before putting them in the oven dissolved during baking. Nonetheless, the remaining powdered sugar on the tops and bottoms of the cookies made eating these a messy proposition. But the mess was so worth it. Tom declares this to be one of his favorite cookies of all time. I have to agree. Other tasters also gave effusive praise, including: "absolutely delicious," "awesome," and "I think this may be the world's perfect cookie."

I'm not quite sure why these cookies are called "clouds," because the texture is nothing like a cloud, or at least, not the airy, fluffy texture I would associate with something called a cloud. The outside is crisp, and the inside is exceptionally chewy; the chewiness is absolutely delightful. The flavor is intense almond, given that the almond paste is boosted with even more almond flavor in the extract and oil.

I should note that this recipe calls for 10 oz. of almond paste, which is the size of the Love'n Bake cans of almond paste from American Almond sold by King Arthur Flour. While I can get Love'n Bake locally at Sur La Table, I generally buy either Odense or Solo almond paste, as they are more widely available and less expensive (on an absolute and per-ounce basis).  Odense comes in 7 oz. tubes and Solo comes in 8 oz. cans. As it happens, I had one of each on hand, so I combined them and made one and a half times the recipe with the 15 oz. of almond paste.

I tried making the cookies again (also one and a half times the recipe) with two Odense 7 oz. tubes of almond paste. There was a visible difference from the missing one ounce of almond paste -- the batter was much looser and the cookies spread more during baking. The taste was virtually the same, but I preferred the appearance of the cookies made with the prescribed proportion of almond paste. I don't like to use only part of a can or tube of almond paste, since the unused portion gets stuck in the fridge and I usually can't find anything to do with it before it goes bad. So I'm just going to keep making one and a half times the recipe with a tube of Odense and a can of Solo; it's easier than trying to scale the recipe down or up by some awkward multiplier.

This recipe has got to be my best Passover find ever.

Recipe: "Almond Cloud Cookies," from King Arthur Flour.