Friday, 20 December 2013

Almond Cookies with Dates and Chocolate {and a very merry Christmas y'all!}

I wish you all a very merry, bright and happy Christmas! I hope you enjoy this special time of the year with friends and family all united cherishing the birthday of Jesus, the community of your family or the act of gifting each other!

As you read this post I'm quite possibly already digging my toes in the golden sand, turning my face towards a glorious sun after devouring some delicious food from the buffet. I now, it might be unfair to tell you, but I'm in the lucky position to spend this holidays with my family a little further away from home (and the rainy, grey and dreary weather ofthe past weeks...) in the beauty of some warmer climate and one of the loveliest hotels around.
My days will be filled with sleeping, resting, reading (4 books packed!) enjoying time with my family and of course: EATING - aaaaalll day long! :-P

This calls for
some great recipes next year (you know, as a foodie you just have to try everything from the buffet, just because: "inspiration") and some extra workout hours... But I don't care! It's the loveliest time of the year and who cares about the aftermath (okay, okay, future pre-summer-me: just stay calm!), just enjoy yourself! I'll definitely do so, dropping off all the stress and exertion from the past weeks' exam phase and extra working hours (they were worth it though: finally got an 50mm/1,4 lens :D).

These cookies make a little lighter addition to the last minute holiday baking (but to be honest, you can easily make them year-round, they really deserve it!): a crunchy almond crust for healthy fats, a nice, smooth, sweet date filling and of course dark chocolate! Thus they combine typical middle eastern dessert flavours - like I do right now - so for the matter of a mere second you can get your mind out of the cold, rainy weather you might experience right now and escape in a sunny, warm and totally comforting vacation atmosphere! Once you return all the stress about Christmas presents, cards, baking, dinner, decoration etc., etc. will be forgotten.

That's what I do right now, ignoring the huuuuge pile of laundry that still needs to be ironed and packed into the always-far-too-small suitcase (like who's tripod is it that occupies so much space...), the presents that still have to be wrapped and the remaining camera gear that has to be organized into my backpack. One of these cookies and everything seems a lot more doable - totally good-mood-food!

Nevertheless have to continue my packing adventure now, so, however you might spend your perfect christmas: have some lovely holidays and christmas time!

Almond Cookies with Dates and Chocolate
- makes about 30-40 cookies, according to size
For the Filling:
- 1 Cup pitted, dried and chopped Dates
- 1/3 Cup Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Water

For the Cookies:
- 170g/1 and 1/3 Cup (minus 2 Tbsp) Whole Wheat Flour
- 130g/ 1 and 1/8 Cup Ground Almonds
- 50 ml Oil (I used Olive Oil)
- up to 100ml Tap Water
- 100g/ 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

For Dipping:
- 150 g Dark Chocolate

1. Make the cookie dough: Combine Flour, Almonds and Sugar, then add in the oil and work together with a fork. Gradually add the water until a firm yet flexible dough is formed and all ingredients are well incorporated. Wrap in foil and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile combine all the ingredients for the filling in a small saucepan and set on the stovetop on medium high heat, stirring occassionally. Once it cooks turn the heat to low, letting it simmer until a thick consistency is reached, stirring from time to time to prevent burning. Set aside.
3. Heat your oven to 180°C. Now knead the dough well once more and roll it out on a flour covered surface with a rolling pin, about 0.5 cm thick. Take two circular shaped cookie cutters, one about 1 cm bigger in diameter than the other and cut out an equal amount of cookies with both shapes. Use up all the dough by further kneading and re-rolling.
4. Assemble the cookies: Take one of the smaller cookies, place up to a teaspoon of date filling in the middle, then top with a larger cookies, pressing it down around the edges to wrap the date filling in the middle. Continue to do so until all dough is used. Set the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper approximately 5 cm apart from each other and bake for 10-15 minutes until they are lightly browned on top and can be lifted easily off the paper.
5. Take out and let cool completely.
6. Melt the chocolate either in a microwave or a waterbath. Dip the bottom of each cookie into the chocolate and set on aluminium foil for resting until chocolate is set. Enjoy!

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