Each season I audition cookies to make for the holidays. My palate prefers spicy, toasty notes over pure sugar.  Shortbread and these Almond Spice Sugar Cookies with Chocolate Coffee Crumbs appeal to me.

A sugar cookie should be crisp, buttery and slightly sweet. Blanched almond flour adds a toasty note and warm baking spices suggest the winter holidays in these cut-out cookies. Although these cookies can be decorated with any sort of icing, the combination of dark chocolate and coffee grounds adds another layer of flavor.

Kitchen Notebook

If you are planning lots of cookie baking this month, you might enjoy reading my Holiday Baking for Smart Cookies.  If you don’t have the time, the single most important tip I can share with cookies bakers is how to properly store your cookies.

If you make cookie plates to share with friends or if you like to pack them into cellophane bags, be careful. Resist the temptation to make these up ahead of time.  Do not store different types of cookies together. This is guaranteed to disappoint.  The flavors migrate from one cookie to the next until your guest won’t be able to distinguish Grandma’s date bars from a macaroon.  And the same thing happens to the texture.  Moisture migrates from moist cookies into the crisp ones.  You end up with a plate of bland, semi-soft cookies.

Instead, store each type of cookie separately, tightly covered in a dry and cool place. Or freeze them.  I store my cookies in the cardboard canisters from the Cummings and Good calendars. (Shameless plug for our dear friends’ work, these are the last of their calendars after a 20+ year run.) Then I pack them into small boxes right before delivering them.


Almond Spice Sugar Cookies with Chocolate Coffee Crumbs

Yield: 4–6 dozen cookies


For the Dough:

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup blanched or natural almond flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup (6 ounces/1½ sticks) butter, softened

¾ cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For decorating:

3–4 ounces unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, melted

3–4 Tablespoons coarse coffee grounds

colored sugar, as needed


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line three or four half-sheet pans or cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the all-purpose and almond flours, spices and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light, approximately 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Blend in the four mixture on low speed. Scrape the bowl then blend again without overmixing.
  4. Gather the soft dough into a ball. Divide it in two. Wrap each piece in plastic then refrigerate the dough for several hours or overnight until firm. (The dough may be frozen and used up to a month later.)
  5. Roll out one piece of the dough at a time on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 1/4 or 1/8 inch. (Keep the second piece of dough chilled while preparing the first.) Cut the dough into star or other shapes using cookie cutters. The yield will vary according to the size of cutters used and the thickness of the dough. Place the cut-out cookie dough on the parchment paper-lined sheet pans.
  6. Bake the cookies until they are lightly browned and beginning to firm, 6–8 minutes for the thinner cookies and 10–12 minutes if the dough is rolled thicker. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.
  7. To decorate the cookies, transfer the cooled cookies to a clean sheet of parchment paper. Scrape the melted chocolate into a plastic pastry bag or plastic sandwich bag. Cut off a tiny amount of the tip or corner of the bag. Drizzle the cookies with the melted chocolate. Then sprinkle the chocolate lightly with the coffee ground and colored sugar. Allow the chocolate to harden before storing the cookies.