Grilled Peaches with Almond Cookies
GRILLED PEACHES WITH ALMOND COOKIES MAKES 24 COOKIES, SERVES 8
If there is a signature cookie that you’ll find across China, it’s probably not the fortune cookie of the popular imagination, but rather the almond cookie. In Chinese American bakeries, these almond cookies are stacked high in window displays, and in Chinese American eateries, they are brought out (with oranges and the bill) at the end of the meal. My version of these almond cookies is light and nutty from the almond dough—and a little reminiscent of Italian amaretti biscuits. In the summer, when peaches are in season, I simply add peaches to the grill after I’ve turned it off and allow them to dawdle until they are softened, sweetened, and slightly charred.
Cooking spray to grease the baking sheets
2 cups whole blanched almonds, plus another 24 almonds for topping the cookies
⅔ cup sugar
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Dash of sea salt
1 large egg
8 ripe medium yellow peaches, pitted and halved
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Process the 2 cups of almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add the sugar, lemon zest, sea salt, and egg and pulse about 10 times or until the dough forms a ball.
Remove the almond dough from the processor and divide it into 24 portions. Roll the portions on a lightly floured surface to form small balls. Distribute the balls on the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least an inch between them. Gently press an almond onto the center of each ball, pushing down to flatten the cookie slightly. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or just until the cookies are golden. Remove the baking sheets from the oven, and allow the cookies to cool on the sheets.
To grill the peaches, heat an indoor grill pan over medium heat and lightly grease the pan. Place the peaches, cut side down, on the prepared grill pan. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the peaches cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until softened and slightly charred. Remove, and serve the peaches with the almond cookies.
Tip: Once baked, the cookies can be stored at room temperature for about a week in a tightly sealed container.