Gluten Free Almond Cayenne Cookies... and an evening to remember.

These are no ordinary Almond Cookies.

These are an epicureal flavor explosion. These are a reason to drink extraordinary tequila.

Here's the story behind this $500 bottle of tequila and the cookies I created as tribute.

Andrew Keller, myself and Arturo Lomeli from left to right.

Andrew Keller, myself and Arturo Lomeli from left to right.

Last August (2016), I had the opportunity to attend a pairing dinner with my dear friend and fellow food-obsessed, Andrew Keller at the fabulous Maestro's steak house in Chicago. This particular pairing dinner was honoring the mastery and artistry of Arturo Lomeli's Clase Azul Tequila.

I still can't believe he gave you that bottle. And I can't believe you still have any left. - Drew

5 course were paired with every member of the Clase Azul family. The depth of each course building on the complexity of the varieties from Blanco, Reposado, Anejo, Ultra (once in a lifetime at $185/shot) and La Pinta.

By definition, reposado translates to "rested" or "calm" which can certainly influence the experience of sipping this particular Clase Azul which is aged in used American oak barrels for eight months after it has gone through the distillation process. Each bottle is made with high quality white ceramic and then hand painted by artisans in our bottling facility. Attention to detail comes second to none, which is evident when admiring what is considered an iconic bottle.

This particular bottle spoke to me.

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It was placed directly in front of me as a center piece and I was smitten with it's delicate features. I learned throughout Arturo's presentation the story behind its artwork and was moved by the thought that goes into each hand-crafted piece. From water, to earth, to birth and harvest... It is truly the most beautiful bottle I've ever seen. Read more here.

Long story (worth hearing... I'll tell you over a glass some day), short-ish - This was the greatest culinary evening of 2016. At the end of the evening, everyone had glitter on their nose and I was gifted with the bottle I had been drooling over all night. When I got home, I need an excuse to open this beauty and toast a friend. Here's where the cookies come in.

The smoky, roasted flavor or the anejo with the richness of almonds, amaretto and spice of cayenne creates a drool-worthy pairing. Take a bite of the cookie and finish with a sip of the tequila, neat with one ice cube.

Also, it should be noted that Almond paste aka Marzipan, is one of my favorite ingredients. I'll write about it one day. Here's the recipe:

Gluten free cookies and clase azul

Gluten Free Almond Cayenne Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 8oz Almond Paste (marzipan)
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1 tsp Amaretto
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • Sliced Almonds
  • Amaretto Almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Use a stand mixer to combine the almond paste and sugar together. Add the egg whites, salt, cayenne and Amaretto and mix until smooth.
  3. One spoonful at a time, roll the mixture into a ball and roll it in the sliced almonds. Set on the parchment paper and press a single amaretto almond into the center. Space each cookie about 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly before moving them to a plate to devour with tequila.
  5. Sharing optional.