Almond Joy Cookies {Grain-Free}

 Do you ever get sudden cravings for treats from your childhood? Once or twice a year, I’ll get a craving for Fruit Roll-Ups or Gushers or Dunkaroos (may they rest in peace) that I just can’t shake. I spend days agonizing over these junk foods I haven’t had since my mom was packing my school lunches, and then once I finally give in and eat a fruit snack or a tiny tub of frosting, it’s never as good as I want it to be. And the worst part is that I’ve wasted perfectly good calories on processed food, when they could have gone to something waaaaay better, like Cocoa Brownies or Dark Chocolate Pecan Butter.

Last week, I got a craving for Almond Joys seemingly out of nowhere. I spent far too many waking hours thinking about little pillows of coconut topped with whole almonds, all covered in dark chocolate. Never mind that I hadn’t had one since my grandmother passed in 2001. On Thursday, I walked into the deli on our block prepared to give in and buy what was sure to be a disappointing candy bar. The Almond Joy of my daydreams was sure to be full of sticky, mealy coconut, slightly-soft almonds, and cheap chocolate in reality. Just as I was preparing to fork over four quarters and what’s left of my dignity, I saw a jar of almond butter behind the counter. And because I have a perpetual case of baker’s brain, my mind immediately went into overdrive. I thought about the classic three-ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe, but made with almond butter. Dotted with coconut and covered in chocolate, they’d be like a grown-up Almond Joy in cookie form. And high in protein and grain-free, so I would feel less guilty about eating three in a row. I got to work, and let me tell you, these cookies are way better than any store-bought candy bar could ever hope to be. 

Almond Joy Cookies bear a lot of similarities to the Easy Nutella Cookies I posted earlier this month. They are both made primarily of nut butter, eggs, and sugar, and are totally grain-free (and therefore gluten-free). This recipe is super simple, but does require some precision in the mixing. As in every cookie recipe, each ingredient has a job. When the recipe has no grains, like this one, those ingredients have to be backed by some serious technique, or the results will send you running for that disappointing candy bar! Here are a few tips to make these cookies as awesome as possible.

Beat the bejeezus out of the egg. I mean, get your electric mixer out, crank it to high, and beat the egg for at least two minutes. The egg will serve to give our cookies structure. If the egg is simply scrambled, we’ll have flat cookies. So beat the egg until it is really, really, REALLY frothy and much lighter in color. This way, our cookies will be nice and puffy. Also, make sure your egg is room temperature, so it takes in air easily.

Use brown sugar, but not too much. Sugar may come in a dry bag, but it’s actually a liquid ingredient. It’s mixed into dough as crystals, but it starts melting on contact with fat and eggs, and fully caramelizes in the oven (which is why most cookies are golden brown). If there is too much sugar in a recipe, the cookies will spread like crazy because of the molten excess liquid. This recipe only calls for 2/3 cup light brown sugar, so our cookies will only spread a little. Don’t worry, they’ll still be sweet! Also, brown sugar keeps things extra moist thanks to the molasses. This will make our final results nice and chewy 😊 

Don’t use almond butter that separates. There are a million brands of almond butter on the shelves these days. You may have noticed that some of them have a layer of separated oil on top. Do not use any of those in these cookies, unless you are ready for a mess! I recommend creamy-style (like Trader Joe’s) or no-stir almond butter (like MaraNathra). Still give whatever you use a good stir, just to distribute all the fat evenly. The almond butter is the other half of the structural dream team. Along with the beaten egg, the almond butter will serve to keep these cookies from becoming flat, oily puddles of sadness. It also provides the flavor base, along with a touch of almond extract, some vanilla, and coconut. Your dough may still feel a little oily while you are rolling it. Don’t worry–just let the excess oil drain off a bit. Your finished cookies will not be greasy.

Baking powder is non-negotiable! Some of the three-ingredient peanut butter cookies out there don’t call for leavening. Peanut butter is pretty thick though, so they still get big and puffy. Almond butter, on the other hand, is thin, so we need a bit of baking powder to keep these cookies rising up instead of spreading out!

Whew!  

   
 
Once all your cookies are baked, melt some chocolate chips and coconut oil, and drizzle it over the cookies with a squeeze bottle or a fork. I like to drizzle twice because, hello, chocolate! I made these in two different sizes for no other reason than I felt like it 😊 I have included instructions for smaller cookies in the notes below. Now, go forth and resist the candy bar! Instead, make cookies that will live up to your childhood memories! 
 Almond Joy Cookies {Grain-Free}
makes 21 medium cookies*

1 large egg, room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup creamy-style almond butter, measured in a dry measuring cup*
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350F. Lay a cooling rack over a sheet of wax paper. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl, use and electric mixer to beat the egg until very frothy and lighter in color, about two minutes. Add the light brown sugar, vanilla, and almond extracts, and beat for one minute. Add the almond butter, salt, and and baking powder, and mix until completely combined. Fold in coconut.

Scoop dough by the tablespoon* and roll into balls. The dough may feel oily. Set dough balls at least 1.5 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until the cookies have puffed up a bit and no longer look shiny. If the cookies are too domed, tap the tops with the back of a spoon. Let cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to the prepared rack.

While cookies are cooling, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil together in a double-boiler or the microwave. Use a small squeeze bottle or a fork to drizzle cooled cookies with chocolate. Chocolate will set after several hours at room temperature, or within thirty minutes in the refrigerator.

Cookies keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Notes:

1. Alternatively, this recipe makes about five dozen very small cookies.
2. I used MaraNathra No-Stir Almond Butter. Do not use almond butter that separates.
3. If making very small cookies, scoop dough by the teaspoon. Bake for 7-8 minutes.

3 thoughts on “Almond Joy Cookies {Grain-Free}

  1. I’m so making these. Though I know they will pale in comparison to your delicious morsels, it’s worth the risk. This is an amazing recipe!

    Like

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