Date and Almond Thumbprint Cookies

Almond flour is magic. I promise you. It makes everything better. It adds a subtle sweetness, nuttiness, creaminess, moistness and most importantly, deliciousness to every recipe. And it does just that and more in these cookies!
I started off just wanting to make regular thumbprint cookies, which are generally filled with jam and sometimes topped with a simple icing. However, I wasn't really feeling the jam vibe. It then occurred to me - dates were the solution! All I had to do was make a simple date paste and fill the thumbprints with it. I'm so glad I went with it!

By all means, feel free to use your favorite jam or even some really good applesauce or lemon curd. But for me, the dates won. I may be (very!) biased when I say that the dates work perfectly with the textures and flavors in these cookies, because my family and I are all date-crazy. We've been eating them for as long as I can remember, and if anything, we love them more and more every day. 
Thanks to the almond flour, these cookies require barely any oil and thanks to the sweet, gooey date filling, they need minimal added sweetness. These cookies are slightly crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, gooey in the center and crunchy on top. What more do you want? To top it off, when these are baking (and when they're just sitting in your cookie jar/box), they give off the most amazing aroma from the almond extract.

The ingredient list is so simple, and the instructions are just as easy. That said, one thing is even simpler: eating a freshly baked cookie! Or two...or three. They're bite-sized perfection, and their small size means you can eat two or three of these without feeling guilty. Not that these are guilt-inducing cookies anyways. I mean, just take a look at the ingredient list!
Makes 20 small cookies
For the cookie base:
1 1/2 cup almond flour
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

For the filling and topping:
6 dates (feel free to substitute with 1/3 cup of your favorite jam)
1 tbsp thinly sliced almonds
granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Soak the dates in hot water and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the almond flour and coconut oil together. Add the maple syrup, beaten egg and almond extract and mix again.

In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining dry ingredients - cinnamon, flour, baking soda, and salt.

Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet almond mixture and mix until just combined. Chill the dough in the fridge for 30-40 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the date filling and preheat the oven to 175 C.

Removed the dates from the soaking water and place in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the dates are very soft and mushy, use a fork to mash them. Turn the heat down to low and cook for another 2-3 minutes until dried slightly. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Line a cooking baking sheet with baking paper.

Once the dough has chilled, remove from the fridge. Roll the dough into small balls. Flatten slightly and place on the baking sheet.

With your thumb (I used my knuckle!) make a small "thumbprint" (indentation) in the center of each cookie. Fill each cookie with a small amount of the date mixture. Finally, top each cookie with a sprinkling of sliced almonds and granulated sugar.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until edges are slightly crisp and golden brown but center is still soft. Cool on the sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Taste test a couple to make sure they're delish!


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