Think of these delicate cookies as fallen meringues: very moist inside, crunchy outside. Make sure the sliced almonds are fresh—they should smell sweet and nutty, not tangy or sharp. If you buy them in bulk, store them in the freezer for up to two months and don’t thaw them before you use them.
MAKES ABOUT 3 DOZEN SMALL, MERINGUE-LIKE COOKIES
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1⁄2 cup sliced almonds
1 1⁄3 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Position the rack in the center of the oven; preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until uniform; set aside as well.
2. Place the chocolate in the top half of a double boiler set over about 1 inch of simmering water, or in a medium bowl that fits snugly over a medium saucepan with a similar amount of simmering water. Stir until half the chocolate has melted, then remove the double boiler’s top part or the bowl from the heat and continue stirring until the chocolate has completely melted. Alternatively, place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and microwave on high for 20 seconds, stir, then continue heating in 15-second increments on high, stirring after each one. When about twothirds of the chocolate has melted, remove it from the microwave oven and continue stirring until it’s all melted. In all cases, transfer the chocolate to a small bowl and set it aside to cool for 5 minutes.
3. Spread the almonds on a third baking sheet or in a small, shallow roasting pan. Toast them in the oven for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned and very fragrant. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes as well.
4. Beat the brown sugar and eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until thick, satiny, and pale brown, about 2 minutes. Pour in the cool chocolate in a slow, steady stream, beating all the while. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the vanilla until smooth. Remove the beaters and stir in the prepared flour mixture with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula just until moistened. Finally, stir in the toasted almond until evenly distributed.
5. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto one of the prepared baking sheets, spacing the mounds about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the tops are slightly cracked but the cookies are still soft inside. Cool completely on the baking sheet before removing the cookies from the parchment paper. Meanwhile, bake a second batch on the second prepared baking sheet, as directed.
2 days at room temperature between sheets of wax paper
Not recommended for freezing
Chocolate Cranberry Chews: Stir in 1⁄2 cup dried cranberries with the toasted almonds.
Chocolate Ginger Chews: Stir in 1⁄2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger with the toasted almonds.
Chocolate Peanut Chews: Substitute 1⁄2 cup finely chopped, unsalted, roasted peanuts for the almonds. Omit toasting the peanuts.
Chocolate Pecan Chews: Substitute 1⁄2 cup finely chopped pecans for the almonds. Toast only 3 or 4 minutes.
Chocolate Walnut Chews: Substitute 1⁄2 cup finely chopped walnuts for the almonds. Toast only 3 or 4 minutes.