I subscribed to Gourmet Magazine when it was still being published, and looked forward to getting it every month. The cover photographs were always stunning, but the December 2008 cover really stuck with me. The theme was cookies, and eight different gorgeous recipes were featured on the cover in different parts of the country. I got the one with these glittering lemon sandwich cookies on it, and now, five years later, I finally got around to making my own version.
These sparkling cookies are vegan, paleo, gluten-free, and perfect for New Year's Eve. They're also the most adorable cookies I've ever laid eyes on. The cookies are richly flavored thanks to the almond flour and lemon zest, and the sugar coating provides the perfect amount of crunch. I was planning to make the lemon filling from Gourmet's recipe, but I got lazy, and instead pulled out jars of raspberry jam and dulce de leche. The tiniest amount sticks the cookies together, and provides the extra bit of sweetness that makes these sandwiches irresistible. Also, they kind of look like miniature hamburgers! How can you say no to that?
The other exciting thing about this post is that these are the first photos I've ever taken with a DSLR camera! Ben got me Plate to Pixel for Christmas, and let me do this photo shoot with his camera. I was so excited to be able to make the camera focus on any particular cookie, while blurring out the others. Depth of field is so fun! I'm looking forward to experimenting more with the DSLR as I learn about the different settings & modes.
If you're looking for a great resource to get started with food photography, I highly recommend Lindsay Ostrum's e-book, Tasty Food Photography. I've read it several times, and will definitely be referring back to it for more help with camera settings as I learn the ropes of the DSLR.
What are your cooking and eating plans for New Year's Eve? Have any great food photography resources to share? Leave some link love in the comments below!
Yield: 30 sandwich cookies
Prep time: 25 minutes
Bake time: 5-6 minutes
Ingredients (adapted from Elana's Pantry and inspired by Gourmet):
2 cups almond flour, lightly packed
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Turbinado, regular, coconut, or sanding sugar, for rolling
Raspberry jam and/or caramel sauce, for filling*
*I used St. Dalfour All-fruit jam, which contains only fruit and fruit juice, so it's vegan and paleo. I also used Stonewall Kitchen's Dulce de Leche sauce. For a vegan caramel, try making this salted caramel with coconut milk and omitting the butter. For a paleo version, try this honey caramel (you may need to warm it up to a spreadable consistency if you make it ahead of time).
Preheat the oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the almond flour, salt, and baking soda, using a fork to break up any lumps. Place the sugar(s) of your choice onto small plate(s). You will need about 1/2 a cup total--I used turbinado sugar for half the cookies and regular granulated sugar for the other half. Try to get sanding sugar if you want them super sparkly!
In a measuring cup, whisk together the melted coconut oil, honey, and lemon zest. Add to the dry ingredients and mix by hand until the dough comes together and can be formed into a ball. Use a measuring spoon to scoop out a teaspoon of dough at a time, press it into a ball, roll it in the sugar of your choice, and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Before baking, use a teaspoon measure to mold each ball of dough into a half-sphere, like in the photo below.
Bake for 5-6 minutes, until lightly golden on top and browned but not burnt on the bottom. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Once cookies are cool, pair them up by size. Place a small amount of jam or caramel sauce (less than 1/4 teaspoon) on one cookie in each pair, and stick the other cookie on to form a cookie sandwich ball.
Cookies will keep in a container at room temperature for several days.
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You might also like:
Lemon Sugar Cookies (Vegan)
Salted Maple Caramel Peach Bars (Paleo, Gluten-free)
Salted Caramel Brownies (Gluten-free)