I once bought some Lace Cookies with dark chocolate from World Market and thought they were amazing. The large cookies were made into sandwiches held together by the yummy chocolate. So I went hunting for lace cookie recipes to bring to a Pre-Thanksgiving potluck that I attended last year. I came across a few versions that included orange zest and hey! I LOVE orange and chocolate together. And almonds. So I tweaked a few recipes and came up with the following recipe.
A few notes: I went ahead and invested in a SilPat for this. I had always wanted one and this seemed like the perfect reason to get one. After making a few sheets thus far, I’ve gotta tell you . . . SilPat is the coolest thing ever in the world. These have to be cooked on a greased surface and I HATE greasing the baking sheet between rounds. This nips that in the bud. I found a medium-sized one for about $20 at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Also, most recipes called for either all brown sugar or all white sugar. I hate that. Since I was using orange, I thought a little brown sugar would complement that really well, but I also didn’t want to overpower the orange with too deep of a flavor behind it. Which is why I’m using some of each.
On the nuts, yes, chop them by hand. It’s not that big a deal and it gives you more control over the final texture of your cookie. I found small packs of slivered almonds and those were a breeze to chop. I don’t recommend using a food processor here, it will pulverize the nuts into dust and I think having some identifiable nuts is a good thing.
Lastly, I was making these last time and you know what? I didn’t HAVE 1 1/2 cups of almonds. After the chopping of 4 ounces of almonds, that gave me about a cup. What to do? I didn’t want to go to the store, dammit. So I found some pecans in my cupboard, chopped those up, and made extra 1/2 cup. And I really liked them both. So do what you want!! This might be good with lots of other kinds of nuts, like walnuts or hazelnuts. Or with lemon zest. Or whatever! Yet again, I encourage mad kitchen experimentation.
1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 tablespoons)
1 1/2 cups chopped almonds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
zest of two oranges
1 egg, beaten
at least 8 ounces of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Melt the butter in a microwave-safe mixing bowl. Add the nuts, sugars, flour, and zest; mix well. Pour in the beaten egg (though honestly, I didn’t beat the stupid egg first because that’s an extra bowl to wash) and mix thoroughly.
Place your handy dandy SilPat (or greased parchment paper) over a cookie sheet. Drop teaspoonfuls of batter about 2-3 inches apart. The cookies will spread like you won’t believe, and you don’t want them overlapping. On a standard cookie sheet, I’ve been able to get 4 across and 3 down without any problem or melding.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and slightly bubbly. Check them at 10 minutes and see if the middles look brown enough. For the first couple of batches, check them, close the oven, and count to 30. It just takes a little patience to determine how they want to cook for you. My oven took 14 minutes.
Remove the sheet from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Let the cookies cool for approximately 2 minutes before attempting to remove them. Using a butter knife (a spatula is too thick to get under these delicate, girly things), pull up one edge of a cookie to test. If stays together and wants to bring the rest of the cookie with it but still looks really flexible, you’re good to go. Quickly transfer all the cookies to another cooling rack, preferably one with rods going in both directions (leaving no slats for cookies to slump through).
By the way, at this point the cookies are still flexible enough to shape into things. Wrap them around the end of a wooden spoon to make little cookie tubes, or shape loosely into cones. Hell, wrap them around the bottom of a cup if you want and make little fluted bowls out of them. Now is the time for sculpting!
When the cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate over a double-boiler. The chocolate kept cooling on me at the table while I was drizzling, so I stuck a heating pad under the bowl and turned it on high. This worked surprisingly well and it may or may not have been something Alton Brown recommended. I honestly don’t remember. I drizzled the chocolate with a spoon. For the few cookies I shaped, those were strategically dipped in chocolate (tubes had the ends, fluted bowls had the edge).