One of my favourite cookies is the delicate, thin, crispy almond biscuit from Jules Destrooper. I can eat an entire box in 20 minutes flat. Slightly sweet and buttery, 30 cookies are no match for my appetite. It’s a problem. These are the kind of tea (or coffee) time treats that even cookie-haters have to love - they are freakin’ delicious!
My mission: to find a Pain D’Amande recipe comparable to Jules Destrooper’s carefully guarded secret.
Results: I found two good recipes and adapted them to my desire for a pain d’amande with whole wheat flour and ended up with two kinds of satisfying Pain D’Amande cookies. One, (adapted from Flo Braker) is very similar to the Destrooper biscuits. They are dense but still light and crispy with just the right amount of nutty goodness. These are not-too-sweet, all-day, any-time eaters. The second is sweeter, flakier and a little more decadent. It is closer in style to a French almond thin, but just as delicious as the first recipe. Personally, I prefer the first recipe (after all, my mission was to recreate the Destrooper almond thins), but after quite a bit of comparative analysis and feedback from friends, have decided to provide both recipes (below).
Pain D’Amande Recipe #1 (Belgian style, adapted from Flo Braker)
- 9 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 1/3 c coarse golden sugar (you can also use brown or white)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp almond extract
- 1/3 c water
- 1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
- 1 c whole wheat flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 c sliced almonds (blanched)
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat and add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract, and water. Stir until butter is just melted and sugar is partially dissolved (but not completely).
In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, and a pinch of salt.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly add the flour mixture until well combined.
Line a 9-inch (23 cm) loaf pan with plastic wrap and press the dough into the pan so that the top is smooth. If you don’t have a loaf pan the dough should be stiff enough that you can shape it into a well-condensed, rectangular block using the flat-side of a large knife and any flat surface.
Chill the dough until firm (the colder it is, the easier it is to cut so I like to put the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes and then in the fridge for an hour or two). The dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days, or wrap it carefully and keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Preheat oven to 325˚F
Using a very sharp chef’s knife, slice the dough crosswise, into very thin rectangles - they should be about the thickness of a quarter (~2mm). The thinner you get the slices, the crispier and more delicate the cookies.
Sprinkle with almonds and delicately press the nuts into the cookie with your fingers or a spatula.
Arrange the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet (they won’t expand much so you don’t need to leave too much room between them). Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are slightly firm and the undersides are golden. Flip the cookies over and bake for another 9-12 minutes. The thinner the cookies, the shorter the baking time.
Let the cookies cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. They keep for up to 3 days. Makes ~80 cookies.
Pain D’Amande Recipe #2 (French-style)
- 1 c unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- 1 c sugar (white or granulized brown)
- 1 c AP flour
- 2/3 c Whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 c sliced blanched almonds
Preheat oven to 325˚F
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and almond extract and beat until smooth.
Whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and then add slowly to wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Place half the batter onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Dip spatula in warm water and spread the batter evenly until it covers the entire cookie sheet (you will need to dip the spatula in water repeatedly). Repeat with the other half of the batter on second sheet. Sprinkle with almonds and use spatula to gently press the nuts into the dough.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven when edges are lightly golden.
Cut the hot cookies into even rectangles.
Return the cut tray of cookies to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes (or until the cookies have achieved and all-over golden colour).
Cool on a wire rack using a spatula. Store in an airtight contain for up to 4 days. Makes ~60 cookies.
Enjoy with a cup of your favourite tea, or coffee, or espresso, or on their own… just be sure to enjoy!