Grain-Free Petit Fours Recipe (Gluten-Free Almond Cookies)

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Every Easter (and Christmas) when I was a child, my mother and I would bake kahk (sugar cookies made with ghee) and petit fours cookies. Petit fours (pronounced peu – tee – foor) is French for “small oven”, and it’s used to refer to the little homemade buttery biscuits that are often served with tea. It was a tradition in our household to make petit fours before every feast, and I looked forward to it more than anything … probably because we very rarely baked any other time during the year.

I had a plastic yellow table and bright red chair that I would set out in front of the little kitchen in our apartment, and I would gather all my plastic baking equipment in preparation of the big baking day. I’d organize my little rolling pin, tin cookie cutter shapes, and colorful baking pans on the table and wait for my mother to give me a little amount of simple flour-and-water dough to play with while she baked her famously delicious cookies. I cannot give my mother full credit for the recipe however, because it was my grandmother who taught her how to make kahk and petit four. It was a yearly tradition in my grandma’s house long before it became a tradition in ours. I’d spend hours shaping and reshaping the dough, making designs and pretending to have developed my own recipe. Once the real cookies were ready to be baked, I’d hand over my tray of star and tree shaped cookies to be “baked” too. Made of just flour and water, they’d come out as hard as a rock and were completely inedible, but it was still nice to find a way to participate in the festivities.

When I got married, I took up cooking as a creative outlet. After much experimentation, trial and error, and a lot of inspiration from my grandparents’ fail-proof recipes, I got a few things right. However, with baking, I didn’t have as much practice, nor did I have the patience to follow exact measurements. So often, my baking attempts were disasters. More recently, I’ve fallen in love with raw (no-bake) desserts, which have been a delicious relief for me. This Easter, however, I wanted to relive the old times, and bake cookies that were more traditional. But I broke up with wheat-based flours close to a year ago because of the gluten therein. I’m not allergic to it, but I find that I feel better when I’m not eating it. (Brenda, co-author of midEATS recently found out she is sensitive to it too). So I knew that I needed to use another type of gluten-free flour. Gluten-free baking with things like rice flour and xanthan gum isn’t accessible to me, so I chose a simple one-ingredient ‘flour’ instead: almond flour. For those avoiding gluten and grains, baking with almond flour is a welcome option. Almonds are healthy, natural and don’t require a lot of complicated preparation. In fact, baking over 30 petit fours cookies made with almond flour took me just 20 minutes … total. And as I mentioned, I’m a novice when it comes to baking.

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You won’t believe how easy it is to bake these grain-free petit fours.

You can grind blanched almonds to make almond flour pretty easily, but knowing that I was going to experiment quite a bit with gluten-free baking, I bought a 5lb bag of almond flour from Amazon. It’s economical for the quantity, though I’m sure that grinding your own in bulk in a food processor might be cheaper (and fresher) if you have the time. I keep mine in the freezer, and only take out the amount I need a few hours ahead of time so it can lose its coolness.

Making these petit fours were much easier than I anticipated. All the ingredients I considered where available in my kitchen, so I didn’t need to go out and buy anything specific to make this happen. It’s as easy as bringing out a food processor, adding the ingredients, giving it a whirl, shaping the dough into little cookies and baking them for 8-9 minutes till cooked.

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As you can see in the pictures, there are dark ones and light ones. They are the same exact cookie. The only difference? The dark ones were broiled for literally an extra minute for the top to brown. Most of my family liked the roasted taste of the dark ones more. The inside is still nice and chewy/doughy, but the outside is crisper. The lighter ones are melt-in-your mouth soft, but still hold together very well and are not at all crumbly.

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I would say that this baking experiment was a huge success! I’m certain that with a little creativity, this basic petit fours recipe can be adapted to include extra spices, shredded coconut, chocolate, homemade jam between two cookies (as we used to do with petit fours when I was a kid), etc … the possibilities are endless. But this time, I ate them solo and plain, with a warm cup of black tea with milk in the morning … and they hit the spot every time!

Grain-Free Petit Fours Recipe (Gluten-Free Almond Cookies)

by Heba

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 7-9 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert almond flour Christmas Easter cookie Egyptian French fall spring summer winter

Ingredients (30-35 cookies)

  • 2 1/3 cups almond flour, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup fat (I used 1/4 coconut oil and 1/4 grass-fed ghee – I loved the mixture, but you can use one or the other with the same results)
  • 1 pastured or organic egg, beaten
  • 5 tablespoons honey or 100% pure maple syrup
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons fair-trade vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon organic almond extract (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined salt

Instructions

(1) Preheat oven to 350F.

(2) Mix the almond flour, fat and sweetener. In a food processor, mix the almond flour, fat (I used a combination of coconut oil and ghee), and honey or maple syrup.

(3) Mix the egg and extracts. In a separate blender, beat the egg, vanilla extract, almond extract, baking soda and salt.

(4) Combine the mixtures. Pour the egg-extract mixture into the processor with the almond flour mixture, and whirl until well incorporated.

(5) Shape petit fours. Shape 1 teaspoon-sized pieces of the dough into round cookies, and add to baking sheet, gently pressing down very slightly to flatten a bit. Space cookies at least an inch apart because they expand. You can make smaller cookies if you wish, or larger. These were about one and half to two inches wide.

(6) Bake petit fours. Stick baking sheet in preheated oven and bake for 7-9 minutes. If you keep for an extra minute, they get darker. For the darker cookies, I kept for 8 minutes, and then ‘broiled’ for a minute to get the top to brown. Since I was trying it for the first time, I wanted to test the texture of both the light and dark ones, and I’m happy to report that each was tasty in its own way. Be very careful and monitor the cookies carefully so they don’t burn.

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(7) Leave to set. After baking, leave out on the counter to set for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy warm, with a glass of milk or tea. To store, keep in a sealed container on the counter for up to a week.

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37 Responses to “Grain-Free Petit Fours Recipe (Gluten-Free Almond Cookies)”

  1. April 19, 2012 at 2:32 am #

    These look so simple and yummy…wouldn’t they be cute with some jelly between two, or maybe some chocolate ganache?! Yum! thanks for sharing with us Heba!

    • April 19, 2012 at 3:33 am #

      Thanks Tessa! Yes, petit fours are traditionally made with homemade jam or jelly in between the cookies – so next time I make these, I’m definitely planning to add that. Chocolate ganache paired with any dessert is divine … but then again I’m a chocolate monster ;)

      • Carol
        December 7, 2012 at 1:00 am #

        I just baked a batch of these cookies and was VERY disappointed in the result. Though they were very simple to make, and they baked up very much like they looked in the pictures, they have TOO MUCH SALT! I just came back to see whether I had copied the recipe wrong but that was not the case. If anyone else decides to make these, I’d recommend using a 1/2 teaspoon, or even less, if you want them to be palatable. I tried melting some dark chocolate to dip them in but it didn’t help much! :(

        • December 7, 2012 at 5:19 am #

          Hi Carol, I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience with this recipe! I’ve made it countless times and it always comes out the same, but then again I always use the same brand of ingredients, so that might make a difference. For salt, I always used the unrefined kind (like Himalayan), which is less salty than iodized salt. I wrote about this difference in an article on my other blog – here’s the link in case you’re interested: http://mylifeinapyramid.com/2012/02/debunking-myths-not-all-salt-is-created-equal-which-kind-of-salt-is-healthiest/ Anyway, I hope you get to try the recipe again maybe with different kind or quantity of salt. Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience!

  2. April 19, 2012 at 3:13 am #

    Very cool! My mouth is watering. ;-) I thought the dark ones were cocoa and surprised to see that they were broiled just a minute to darken them! Very neat idea! Plus these are GAPS legal if honey is used so I will be posting to my Facebook fan page. Looking forward to more of your experiments, Heba! :-)
    Starlene recently posted…Recipe: Pretzels Gluten-Free and Grain-FreeMy Profile

    • April 19, 2012 at 3:34 am #

      Yay, so glad you liked the recipe, Starlene! And thanks so much for sharing :) I actually used honey, so I can attest to the fact that honey works really well. So glad to add to your list of GAPS-legal dessert recipes too. Let me know if you ever try it. Super easy to make!

  3. April 19, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    Wow! Those look perfect. Thanks so much for sharing at Allergy-Free Wednesday! I hope you’ll come back and share more next week.
    Nancy @Real Food Allergy Free recently posted…Our Personal Story, Part 2 and an Announcement!My Profile

    • April 19, 2012 at 3:35 am #

      Thanks, Nancy! They were surprisingly easy to bake (and I’m no baker, hah). ;) Thanks for stopping by and for hosting the Allergy-Free Wed blog carnival!

  4. April 19, 2012 at 4:16 am #

    Heba…those look devine.Thanx for putting us a gluten free option.I’d like to bake these next week and let u know how they turn out…

    http://www.cookingwithshy.wordpress.com

    • April 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

      Thanks for the comment Shy! Let me know when you do bake it :) If you like cookies, but need a GF version, these will be a dream come true. Yep, they’re that good!

  5. April 19, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    These look delicious and easy to make! Have you tried any other oils besides coconut oil?

    • April 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      Thanks, Irini!! :) Yes they’re really easy to make and super delicious! If you bake with ghee/clarified butter (my favorite), that works well instead (or half coconut oil/half ghee as I did in this recipe). I imagine you can also substitute melted butter, but I haven’t tried it. As for other oils, most vegetable oils turn rancid under high temperatures, and aren’t healthy to consume on a regular basis. (Something like canola oil is super processed, most of it is genetically modified, and it tastes to me like fish when heated, so it’s not ideal). Let me know if you think of any other oils/fats that can work instead of coconut, ghee or butter for this type of cookie!

  6. April 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Looks del.i.ci.ous! I really have to make some cookies with almond flour. I have been so stingy about it because I don’t want to use up my raw almonds that I stashed up from California. But these might make me give ‘em up!
    Jen recently posted…Freaky Friday 4/20/2012My Profile

    • April 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

      Thanks Jen :) I know what you mean about using raw almonds. The best deal on already ground almond that I’ve been able to find is the Honeyville brand on Amazon. It’s likely not raw (though I’m not sure) and not certified organic, but it’s for baking, so I’m fairly content with it. One day, I’ll buy my own blanched almonds and make flour as I need it … Anyway, you’ll love these petit fours; they’re really easy to make. They cook/burn easily though, so don’t keep in the oven for longer than 7ish minutes, and then check on them for the next 2 minutes till they turn into a shade that you prefer. Good luck!

  7. April 21, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    These look lovely! Don’t you just love it when an almond flour recipe comes together!
    Vicky recently posted…Mediterranean Kidney Bean Burgers GF SCDMy Profile

  8. April 22, 2012 at 1:06 am #

    This recipe looks so easy and delicious! I’ve been wanting to make some cookies lately and I’ll definitely have to give them a try soon.

    I’ve taken to making my almond flour lately. I used to buy the large bag which is definitely easier, but I always had trouble digesting it. Apparently I need my almonds to be soaked before using them. The good news is that it really is easy to do if you ever decide to give it a try!
    Mindy @ Too Many Jars in My Kitchen! recently posted…My Reflections on Repeating GAPS IntroMy Profile

    • April 22, 2012 at 3:30 am #

      Hi Mindy! Thanks; it’s such an easy recipe … you won’t believe how quickly they bake! Yes, making almond flour in larger batches is my next project. I’ve soaked and roasted almonds for making almond butter with coconut oil (which was divine – so much better than store-bought), but I got lazy and just bought the Honeyville ground almonds bag recently for making desserts like this one as well as crusts and pancakes on the fly. When the bag runs out I’ll definitely start soaking the almonds before grinding myself. Where do you buy your almonds, if you don’t mind me asking?

      • April 22, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

        Hi Heba!

        I love making almond butter, too. I’ll have to try adding some coconut oil. Sounds amazing!

        I typically just get my almonds from Vitamin Cottage (also known as Natural Grocers). I dont know if there would be one near you. They have organic ones, but they are steam pasteurized. I don’t worry about trying to get truly raw ones if I’m going to bake with them. I did do a group order a while back with some people directly from a farm in California to get ones that were actually raw. But if I’m going to cook them anyways, I figure what’s the point.

        Where do you get yours for your almond butter? Do you try to get raw ones?
        Mindy @ Too Many Jars in My Kitchen! recently posted…My Reflections on Repeating GAPS IntroMy Profile

        • April 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

          I’ve purchased blanched almonds from my local health food store (MOM’s Organic Market in the Northern Virginia area), but since they were blanched, they were probably pasteurized. I found a few online sources for raw organic nuts, like Living Nutz and Blue Mountain Organics but I think they’re pretty pricey. I agree that pasteurized isn’t a huge deal since we’re using it for baking/cooking anyway. But for almond butter and snacking, it would be nice to find economical raw and organic ones …

  9. Carolyn
    April 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    Hi! I’m planning to make these today. This is my first try at cookies since we went gluten free/dairy free/sugar free two months ago. My one question is – Do you use literally 1 measuring teaspoon or did you use a teaspoon you eat with? A baking teaspoon seems so tiny. They would be cute though!
    Thank you!!

    • April 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

      Hi Carolyn! I’m excited you’re making these today – you’ll love them :) I use a regular teaspoon that I eat with – I don’t think I even own a set of actual “measuring spoons”, haha … shows you how much of a “baker” I am (I’m not …) Hope they turn out wonderful for you – let me know! Take care!

      • Carolyn
        April 24, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

        Everyone loved them!! My son suggested putting lemon curd between them. Would love to hear how you made the chocolate coconut version!
        Thanks so much for this great recipe.

        • April 25, 2012 at 2:32 am #

          That’s awesome, Carolyn! I’ve never made homemade lemon curd, but it does sound like it would go wonderfully with the almond cookies. I’ll have to try it one time! The chocolate coconut version is easy – same recipe as above, but just add around 1/4 cup unsweetened cocao powder (I use the Pacari fair trade brand) and about 1/3 cup finely shredded (unsulphured) coconut. I didn’t measure these out, so don’t take my word for it now, but you can add a little less than that, taste test the batter, and adjust accordingly. One time I’ll have to photograph the chocolate-coconut version and post about it with more accurate measurements :)

  10. April 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    I want a few of these right now with my afternoon tea! What healthy cookies and I love that they are grain-free too!
    Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry recently posted…Vanilla Coconut Frozen Yogurt (Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free & Vegan)My Profile

    • April 23, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, Laura! Yes, I’m excited I figured out a grain-free cookie recipe that works! I just made a chocolate-coconut version of this yesterday in about 20 minutes, and they too were delicious. Hope you get to try it :)

  11. May 17, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    Heba these look SO delicious and buttery! I’m bookmarking to veganise and make this Eid Al Fitr so that I can have something to chow down on while everyone else scarfs kahk :)
    Nada (One Arab Vegan) recently posted…WIAW: Spring Eats, Juice and ChickpeasMy Profile

    • May 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

      Oh, you will love these, Nada! I have omitted the egg before and instead added a “flax egg” (1 T flax meal mixed with 3 T water), and they turned out delicious. You can also use just coconut oil and omit the ghee with similar results. Let me know how they turn out if you end up making them!

  12. May 19, 2012 at 3:39 am #

    So I finally made these recently; they were so good! I need to make them smaller next time, they definitely spread out a lot. I’m guessing the fact that I live at high altitude didn’t help that!

    Do you have any tips for preventing the dough from sticking to your hands when shaping the cookies? I ended up just dropping them and smoothing with a spoon because it kept sticking. I always have that issue when working with almond flour. Thanks!
    Mindy @ Too Many Jars in My Kitchen! recently posted…An Ode to My FreezerMy Profile

    • May 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

      Hi Mindy! So glad you tried them and liked them :) I actually blended the dough until it reached an almond butter consistency, so I didn’t have any issues with it sticking to my hands. I would say oil your hands with some coconut oil or ghee, or add more fat to the batter, and you won’t find that it sticks. Let me know if you try that method and how it works out for you! Have a lovely week.

  13. June 4, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    These look so good! I would love to try making them, thanks for the recipe :)

  14. August 10, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Hi Heba,
    Had bookmarked these along time ago…Finally made them.,,Made some alterations…I’ve used powdered almonds and powdered roasted hazelnuts…Used butter instead of ghee…they turned out delish…Thanks for this fab recipe:))

  15. November 4, 2012 at 5:42 am #

    These look yummy! I’ve been trying to go Paleo and have I feel much better not eating wheat based baked goods. Thanks for sharing:)

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