Almondina Cookies: No Bake Valentine’s Day Gelato, Sorbet and Ice Cream Heart Treats

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For those of you unfamiliar, Almondina is a thin cookie that is not only less punishing caloric (only 30 calories each) wise but absolute deliciousness!  Most dunking cookies I love more how they look than how they taste because the cookies are so dry, they suck the moisture out of your mouth.  You try to dunk them to soften them and then they fall apart, so now your hot coffee is not so enjoyable anymore with pieces of dissolved cookie with every sip!  Almondina has fixed the problem but I find them better than most packaged cookies I have ever enjoyed because they are so versatile!  You do not have to commit to one flavor because they are thin cookies that come in different varieties.  You have chocolate based to the original vanilla tasting ones, to cinnamon, to even pumpkin.  You want yogurt dipped, Almondina has it and even chocolate dipped, so again this is more than just a cookie you have with a hot drink.  It is a cookie that stands alone in it’s own class of thin (but delicious) crisp cookies.  I love almonds and it started with how the nut tasted but it is also a healthier alternative.  What I like is the amount of almonds and fruit you get too.  I am not cheated out of anything, just eating less fats!  It may be a “better-for-you” cookie but what makes this dreamier, is you get all the flavor and can’t believe one thin cookie could do so much! I will be reviewing the cookies later this week and will have a giveaway for my readers.  Yes, that means the sample pack I received could be yours! So, stay tuned and just a small hint, start following and liking them on Facebook 🙂

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Let Almondina Cookies make your Valentine’s Day treats not only easy and quick to make, but they will look like you dedicated all day to them. The cookies are toasted already so no need to toast in the oven. You can even add sprinkles, chocolate ganache or just the Almondina crumble itself.

I started by using Almondina Choconut, a delicious chocolate cookie that is studded with almonds and raisins. I take the cookie and break off some of the nuts to use later as decor. Using a food processor, I pulse until get a nice mix of fine and medium crumbs. In a small bowl, I add the crumb to be used for later. I again repeat the above process with the Original Almondina cookies and the Almondina AlmondDuo, a double nut cookie, which features not only almonds but also pistachios.

Take your Valentine’s Day cookie cutters (I have both metal and plastic) . Get your favorite ice cream, sorbet, or even gelato out of the freezer. I do one flavor at a time and if I do not have a flavor…..I make it. I had left-over boysenberry preserves I made a few days ago and folded it into vanilla bean ice cream to make boysenberry ice cream. You can use a cherry preserves or any flavor you desire. This not only saves money but also makes those flavors you dream of into reality.

I use a parchment square and under that place some plastic wrap. You can also use the plastic wrap by itself if you do not have parchment.  Take your cookie cutter and place it in the center of the paper/plastic. Stuff the cookie cutter with the above frozen treat of your choice and I find using a spoon and stuff by the “sliver” versus scooping is the easiest way to avoid air pockets. I use a small spatula to smooth out the Gelato and then simply use my hands to push the form out. You can also use the assistance of the parchment paper you used the cookie cutter on if you have enough overage, this also avoids getting ice cream on your fingers. Rinse and repeat!

*The above is Pistachio Gelato

 

*The above is Coconut Sorbet 

*The above is Dark Chocolate Gelato and the Boysenberry Ice Cream I made

I then place cover the molded treat and place it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. If you are making more than one, make sure to not allow your ice cream to soften too much. I suggest placing the pint back in the freezer to keep it from melting. This is why I like to work with different flavors because I can rotate as I work.  If I need to hurry up a creation, I place it in the ice cube tray for a fast chill.

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While everything refreezes, I start making ganache. Ganache is a simple recipe of 1/2 heavy cream and 1/2 chocolate. I use a mix of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate and slowly melt it on the stove. For convince, I place my ganache in a glass dish with a spatula for easy scooping.

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Once the molded heart has hardened again, I take out one heart at a time and begin to decorate. You can use several ways:

  • Spread Ganache and then the Almondina Cookie Crumbs.
  • Stud the hearts with the nuts you recovered from the cookies before making the crumb and then only applying crumble to the sides.
  • Make a Mold of Gelato and fill only 1/4 of the way, add Almondina Crumble and then fill again with Gelato. This gives you a crumble in the center.
  • You can do half Ganache and half crumble, so you get different textures

Return the decorated heart back and allow it to set for 20 to 30 minutes. This will of course vary by size of cookie cutter and amount of frozen treat used.

I used some ganache and stencils to not only decorate the dessert but also my plate. You just smear a small amount of ganache and then some red colored sprinkles, or any color of your choice. Lift the stencil and then you have a cute design. Place the plate in the fridge and if the plate is freezer safe, it is much better because it then gets as cold as the hearts, This buys you time when you put everything together. Get your Love Bug and you have a gorgeous and delicious dessert that required no oven and just some opening and closing of the freezer ❤ This also a very kid friendly project, so make it a family thing too ❤ Enjoy!

To locate where you can buy Almondina’s Cookies or to view their large selection, please visit:

  • On-line– http://www.almondina.com/
  • Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/Almondina.Brand
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/almondina

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I received the above product free of charge from Almondina Cookies.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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Pretzel Bread Recipe

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Everybody loves pretzel bread. Everybody. We see the commercials from drive-thru joints to restaurants, and I was purchasing the 4 bun bag at Trader Joe’s until they discontinued it. So I started purchasing it at Costco then and after two purchases, they suddenly stop making it. I have heard they consider it a “seasonal item”, but whatever the reason, I wanted Pretzel Bread and was tired of hunting. Yes, I even tried Fresh & Easy’s Pretzel buns and they just taste like salty white bread, so I think they just paint their burger buns brown and call it Pretzel bread!

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Pretzel Bread                                                                                                                                                                 Brauts with Pretzel Buns

So after experimenting, I finally found a way to have Pretzel buns, rolls, loaves….you name it and you can even freeze them to have them keep longer. I use plastic wrap and then foil to freeze each roll. I then take them out, remove the plastic and re-wrap the bread in the same foil I used to freeze it in. Set the oven at 375 degrees and 10 to 15 minutes later, I have warm freshly baked Pretzel bread! YUM.

Let’s get started……

For the Dough-

1 cup of whole Milk
3 tablespoons of Butter
2 tablespoons of Brown Sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons of Active Dry yeast (1 packet if using the envelopes)
1 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher Salt
2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups of All-Purpose Flour

1/2 teaspoon of Unsalted Butter to use in the bowl your dough will rise in

For the Wash-

12 cups of Water
3/4 cup of Baking Soda

1 Egg and a teaspoon of Water to brush the bread before baking

I use a microwave and warm the milk until it reaches 115 degrees. I add the butter, brown sugar and then the yeast. I use a spoon and make sure to wet the yeast enough and let it sit for about 5 minutes. While the yeast blooms, I begin to combine the salt and flour separately in a large bowl. When 5 minutes have passed, i pour the yeast mixture into the mixer’s bowl with the dough hook attached. Make sure to use a spatula and get any remaining yeast into the bowl since it does not always pour out smoothly. I then begin to incorporate the flour and salt mixture slowly until I get a soft dough and this ranges between 2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups. Not sure if the dough is smooth? Error on the side of caution and stick with 3 cups because a moist dough is better that a too dry dough in this application. Continue to knead the dough with the mixer for about 8 to 10 minutes. You want a smooth and elastic finish. I then take the greased bowl that will fit the dough but also allow room for it to proof (double in size). I dump the dough and create a loose ball, cover loosely with plastic and allow for it to rise. Takes about an hour and I use my oven as it has a “proof setting” that I set at 105 degrees.

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Before Rise                                                                                                                                                        After 1 hour Rise

After the dough doubles in size, I begin by weighing it. This allows me to think about what I want to do so for example if I am making two large loaves, I just divide the weight in half. Making large buns, I usually divide the weight by 8. Sometimes I also make sandwich rolls or even a hot dog buns, and again divide the dough by what I desire to make. My dough weighed 785 grams so I felt a bun weighing about 95 to 100 grams, would make a good size individual loaf. I made round rolls and sandwich long buns with this batch. You make what fits best with your meals 🙂

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To make a sandwich long bun, I just make a snake with the dough and then fold each end in. My snake is about 12 inches long so when both ends come together, the roll is almost 6 inches. Buns I just make balls with a flat bottom.

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I then allow the buns to rise between 25 to 30 minutes. I put a towel over the pans and again return the dough to my oven on the proof setting at 105 degrees.

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While my buns rise, I begin to mix the water and baking soda. Bring your wash to a boil and then have a steady simmer going. I take out my spider spoon, because this helps me picking up the buns without a mess of water coming with them.

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I also crack the egg and add the water for the wash. Also a good time to set your oven to 400 degrees. I use the convection setting for bread.

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Buns have risen so now it’s time to “pretzel-ize” them. Just like you would do with bagels, you put one or two buns in and allow them to remain in the baking soda solution for 3 minutes on each side and I use the assistance of a timer because I can get distracted easily. After 6 minutes are up, I remove the buns and place them on parchment and the pan I will be using to bake them on. I have found my pizza pan (with holes) works better when it comes to texture but a cookie sheet works fine if that is all you have at hand.

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Give your bread(s) a brushing with the egg wash and then using a sharp knife, cut an “X” cross on top or slits, whichever you like. I do crosses on the round buns and slits on the longer ones to distinguish their use.  You may also sprinkle Poppy seeds if you wish to have some at this point.

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Pop them in the oven at the 400 degrees setting for about 10 minutes and then reduce to 375 degrees and bake until done. Okay, because buns, loaves, rolls, ect., vary on size, this is why I leave this part open regarding time. Mine took between 5 to 8 minutes on the 375 degrees setting and I take them out when they look as dark as you see pictured. Once you remove the bread, cool on a rack and try not to munch but I always give in to the smell and figure I test out the rolls to make sure they are good. Cool for about an hour or two and then you can freeze them like I described above.

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These guys are good as-is, for sandwiches and you can even make your own pretzel crisps, which I have used for even accompanying hummus and spreads. To make the crisps, you just slice a cool loaf and then toast them and allow them to cool. Best dipping bread EVER!!!!  Enjoy!

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