Almond Butter Sticks
These might not look like much in the photo but at that first delicious buttery, sweet bite, teeth breaking through the layers of dough folded over almond-sugar filling, you are destined to fall in love with these cookies. I think that the recipe first came from a Pillsbury Bake-Off cookbook that my mom had from 1963, if I’ve remembered it correctly. It really doesn’t matter, however, as from when that first batch of Almond Butter Sticks came out of the oven, hot and fragrant, they became a family favorite.
The ingredients are deceptively simple: butter, cream cheese, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and almond extract. The trick to making these is a couple of things, as I can attest after having made probably about 50 batches of these. I found the recipe on Cooks.com, which gives the same instructions that I have on my well-used recipe card. After dividing the dough in half, each piece is rolled out in to a large rectangle, filled with 1/6 of the sugar-almond extract mixture, folded into thirds, and then turned a quarter of the way around where the process is repeated two more times.
This is not a recipe to be made when it is hot and sticky outside as the dough becomes too soft to work with and will be difficult to turn and fold. Aside from reserving baking these for drier and cooler months of the year, one tip I have is to do a flip and fold method. After folding in the sides, carefully turn over the whole parcel of dough so that the folded sides face downwards and the flat side (what was the bottom) faces upwards. I’ve found that this keeps the bottom from becoming to thin, leading to it breaking or becoming difficult to lift from the table when rotating it.
Another extra step that I usually do at the end is that after the last folds, I do one more gentle roll out of the final dough, filling and all. This is really just to seal it and to make the cookies a bit larger. The recipe on line says that this makes 72 cookies. I don’t think that either my mother or I have ever managed to get that much out of a batch. My average is about three dozen. It kind of doesn’t matter because they don’t really last very long anyway!
Last weekend, I mailed a batch of these to my sisters who were all together to support a member of our family who is going through a serious illness. The reports I got back via emails and Facebook were that they devoured all of them – not a surprise. These cookies were one of my specialties in college. Using them and their irresistible appeal, I was able to barter the loan of a friend’s car and a lift to take the Foreign Service Exam, to name a few favors. Yesterday, they also made the guys who delivered my new couch very happy, as being stuck at home for several hours waiting for them meant I had time to whip up another batch on the fly. As you can see all from all the beautiful layers of the one in the photo below, there’s a clear reason why these cookies have had so many fans.