I catered my first event today!
Before leaving my old chemistry job, I constantly kept the break room stock with cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and bars. I brought in treats basically once a week. A few coworkers figure out my ulterior motive—baking for this blog, not just for fun—but most of them, my boss included, never realized I photographed and wrote about nearly everything I ate.
I eventually confessed my baking blog secret to Boss last January, and he actually encouraged me to follow my dreams, due to the rapidly shrinking job marked in our field. But still, I was downright shocked when he sent me this short email only a couple of days after officially quitting.
Yes! Yes yes yes!
My mind started racing faster than a Thoroughbred at the Kentucky Derby. What to bring? Individual finger-food treats. Which ones? (Gosh I hate being indecisive!) Brownies—my ultimate favorite ooey gooey ones. Mini muffins—my absolutely addictive spiced pumpkin, only smaller. Cookies—uhh… umm…
I really wanted to choose my licorice almond cookies, but knowing my chemistry coworkers, they’d probably avoid the platter like the plague. What kind of crazy person puts bits of black licorice into cookie dough? (In my defense, my mom declared them the best cookies I’ve ever made!) Instead, I decided to swap it out for something slightly less strange: dried cherries.
Because dried cherries tend to be bigger than raisins, I diced them into 4-6 pieces (per cherry) to ensure they spread evenly throughout the dough and every bite contained a bit of the tangy fruit. I also reserved about 1 tablespoon to press into each cookie just before baking. I do this for every cookie recipe with mix-ins because it makes the tops look more appetizing (and prettier too!).
I chilled the cookie dough for 4 hours before shaping and baking. This is mandatory; do not skip the chilling step. You just mixed and stirred and beat the flour into the dough, so chilling allows the gluten to relax, which produces softer cookies. It also reduces the dough’s stickiness and makes it easier to roll into balls.
When baking the cookies, leave them in the oven for 10-12 minutes at most. Although they may look underdone, you’ll let them rest on the hot baking sheet for another 10 minutes, which allows the centers to set without the outsides turning crunchy.
When I set down the tray of Cherry Almond Cookies on the table at the seminar, it took all of 20 seconds for people to wander over and pick up the treats. Many snuck a second, the girl seated behind me asked for the recipe, and another lady proclaimed them “much better than the normal catered food!”
All that from my baking blog confession and quitting my job.
Thank you Boss!
These sweet almond cookies are studded with tart dried cherries. It’s an absolutely addictive flavor combination, but if you do happen to have leftovers, they’ll stay soft for up to a week if kept in an airtight container.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter and egg whites. Stir in the yogurt, almond extract and brown sugar, smearing any clumps of sugar along the side of the bowl. Add in the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the dried cherries, and fold in the remaining dried cherries. Cover the top with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours, or until firm. (Note: I prefer to chill for 4 hours.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and divide into 24 pieces. Shape each into a ball, place onto the prepared baking sheets, and flatten slightly. Press 2-3 pieces of the reserved dried cherries into the top of each.
- Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes, or until light golden. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
Note: For a vegan version, substitute margarine for the butter, soy yogurt for the Greek, and 1 tablespoon Ener-G + ¼ cup warm water for the egg whites.
Consuelo @ Honey & Figs says...
Congratulations Amy, I’m so happy for you!!!! I agree that these are so much better than normal catered food, they look delicious 🙂
Thank you so much Consuelo! Your sweet comments always bring a smile to my face and warm my heart. 🙂
Gretchen @ Two Healthy Kitchens says...
Awww Amy!! I’m so glad your first catering job went well! Shelley and I were just saying how we hoped everything would go great for you!! YAY you!!! Congratulations!! 🙂
Gretchen, you and Shelley are just way too sweet — thank you so much!! I’d give you both the biggest hugs I ever could. 🙂
Hi Amy, sorry to bother you with so many qns (I asked you another one for another recipe)! I’m just curious if I can replace the almond extract with actual almond nuts because some of my family and friends don’t really like the taste of the extract. Thanks!
It’s worth trying Sylvia! If you replace the almond extract with double the amount of vanilla extract and add in chopped nuts, I think that should work.
I just mixed up this dough and (after tasting it) noticed that it’s very salty. I did use Himalayan salt, but usually it’s less salty to me. The dough itself was extremely dry. Should I add anything to it to try and fix that?
I highly recommend against using Himalayan salt in any of my baking recipes unless it’s specifically called for because it will produce that overly salty taste. If the dough was dry, then there was probably too much flour. How did you measure the flour? I’ve found that when I scoop it directly from the container, I end up with 1.5 times as much as when I lightly spoon and level (I describe more here), which would definitely cause the problem you describe. You can try adding milk 1 teaspoon at a time until the dough comes together, but the cookies will be more cakey than chewy. I hope that helps Megan!