Almond thumbprints with a deliciously crumbly texture and sweet apricot jam. The perfect cookie to pair with a cup of coffee or tea!
I’ve been on a Christmas cookie-baking bender the last few weeks. I think I’m making up for lost time. The last two Christmas seasons I was incapacitated by the day-to-day aspects of running my chocolate business. I would wake up at 5 a.m., assemble packages to be shipped, go into the kitchen at 9 a.m. to make more chocolates, come home at 7p.m., inhale some leftover pizza, spend an hour promoting my business on social media, continue packaging product until 11 or 12 that evening. And then start over again the next day. I barely had time to bathe, rarely saw my husband, and definitely didn’t have time for a social life during the month of December. And this was with the help of two lovely interns.
As anyone who has their own business knows, starting a business is extremely hard. Small food businesses can be even tougher because of the lower price points. It’s all about volume. You have to sell A LOT in order to make any money. I thought starting a small chocolate company was my calling but I quickly burned out after less than two years. And that was after achieving many successes: my products were featured in Food & Wine and Bon Appétit magazines, and were sold in local Whole Foods Markets. That is to say, I had many reasons to keep at it and continue to grow my business. But when I sat down to reflect, my quality of life had severely diminished over the last two years. I also knew enough other small food business owners to know that the “quality of life” aspect doesn’t change all that much down the road. Your business is like a child that needs constant attention, nurturing and energy in order for it to thrive and be profitable. And even after all that, being profitable isn’t a guarantee. In other words, you have to REALLY want it, and I realized I didn’t want it more than I wanted a work/life balance that allowed me to have a fulfilling life with my family.
The stress of running a small business also took a toll on my mental health. I rarely had time to exercise, go to yoga classes or see my therapist; all of which help to keep me sane. I discovered I had a much shorter fuse with my husband during this time, and could be set off by the smallest things. All of the things I had time to do before I started my business started to get left behind. Several months after closing my business, Mr. K and I sat down to check-in with each other one night. We both articulated how happy we were in our marriage. We no longer felt neglected or unappreciated by the other person. Instead, we recognized that we had both been making a big effort over recent months to show the other person how special they were. And readers, that is one hell of a good feeling.
Now back to my cookie baking streak. In case you missed my post earlier this week, I made Chocolate-Covered Gingersnaps that were met with a resounding “Hell yes!” by both my husband and I. Well, these Almond-Apricot Thumbprints, adapted from Bon Appétit, received similar accolades. They have a crumbly, sandy texture, which reminded me of Pecan Sandies. My husband can’t get enough of these thumbprints and has even gone so far as to declare them Favorite Cookie Number Two. I love the pairing of apricot jam with the almond flavor in these cookies in particular. Feel free to let me know if you try this recipe and what you think. I hope to post at least one more Christmas cookie/candy recipe before the holidays are over!
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups unsalted, roasted almonds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup coarse sanding sugar
- Apricot jam for filling
- Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 375°.
- Pulse flour and almonds in a food processor until almonds are very finely ground. Add baking powder and salt and pulse to blend.
- Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
- Add egg and almond extract and beat until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients; mix just to combine.
- Place sanding sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop out dough by the tablespoonful and roll into balls (if dough is sticky, chill 20 minutes). Roll in sugar and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2" apart. Using your thumb, make a deep indent in each ball.
- Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until golden, 13-15 minutes.
- Transfer to wire racks and let cool. Fill with jam.