Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Apricot Almond Bird's Nest Cookies

I first read about the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap last year on  The Gingered Whisk blog and immediately got on the mailing list for this year's swap.  I thought it was a great way to contribute to a wonderful cause; foster good will among bloggers; and, of course, receive dozens of cookies in the mail!

The deal is you bake 3 dozen cookies, mail them to three bloggers and in return you get a dozen cookies from 3 other bloggers. Genius!  It was all fun and games until I sat down and really thought about the logistics of the whole thing.  Baking, photographing, warping, mailing- this was going to take some planning.

Happily Lindsay and Julie, the bloggers behind the Cookie Swap, provided some excellent, and I do mean excellent, tips on how to have a positive swap experience.  They covered every step of the process, and this gave me a whole lot of confidence.  The only thing they couldn't do for me was pick the cookie I was going to bake.

Luckily I had that part covered.  After going back and forth between countless cookies,  I finally decided on apricot almond bird's nest cookies.  I knew my cookie had to hit that sweet spot on the Venn diagram of yummy, beautiful and totally mail proof.  I felt these cookies would  do the trick. 

I've been making bird's nest cookies for a long time, often changing out the nuts and/or jam.  This time around I went for almonds and apricot, but they are just as good with walnuts and raspberry, pecans and strawberry, almonds and raspberry... you get the idea, they're all fantastic.  

apricot almond bird's nest cookies

1 & 1/2 cups soft butter
1 cup sugar
2 yolks 
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups unbleached white AP flour
2 egg whites
1 & 1/2 cups ground slivered almonds
1 cup apricot preserves (more or less)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a stand mixer cream butter and sugar until fluffy, scraping down the bowl and beaters as necessary.  Add yolks and vanilla and mix in.
Whisk baking powder into flour and add to butter mixture in a couple of additions, scraping the bowl and beaters as necessary, until dough forms.
In a small bowl whisk the eggs whites and set aside.  Put a small amount of almonds in another bowl and set aside.
Working in small batches, scoop dough in rounded teaspoonfuls and roll into a smooth ball with hands.  Dip a couple of balls at a time in egg whites and then in almonds. (Don't put all the almonds in the bowl, use just enough for a few cookies and refill as needed). 

Place on parchment lined cookie sheet leaving two inches between each  cookie.  Make a small indent in each cookie and fill with about 1/2 teaspoon apricot preserves.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies have puffed up and are lightly golden.


Of course, that's not the end of the story...

No sooner had I arrived home from the post office when a box appeared on my door step.  Wow, talk about instant gratification!  My first cookie swap-back: a dozen Browned Butter White Chocolate Cranberry Cashew Oatmeal cookies from Brianne at Cupcakes & Kale Chips.  I couldn't open it fast enough and take a bite of these fully loaded treats!  They were just like oatmeal cookies in that they were not like any other oatmeals.  After tasting these, other oatmeal cookies are just going to seem like they're missing something!   I absolutely adore cashews and you hardly ever see them in cookies.  I wanted to eat them all, but in the end I shared.  Thank you Brianne. 

And then there was the box of Salted Toffee Crunch cookies from Brittney over at Kitchenette!  A tender delight of pretzels, toffee and almonds.  Yes, you heard me right.  Pretzels.  Toffee.  And almonds.  Yes, yes, and yes!  Thank you Brittney, I took these cookies to work and everyone adored them.  Do I need to mention I was everyone's favorite person that day!

And lastly, but certainly not leastly, came the festively packaged Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa cookies from Susan at The Foodette.  Holy beejeezus, were these ever uber yummy!  It was like a chocolate cookie and a brownie got married and had a honeymoon in Fiji!  I had two before I even showed my dear hubby! 

My new waist line aside, I have to say that this was the most fun I ever had with cookies, and I can't wait to sign up again next year!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013 
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