Chocolate Almond Cookie Boxes for Valentine’s Day

Ingredients

Cookies

·         2/3 cup cocoa powder

·         2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

·         1/2 teaspoons baking soda

·         1/4 teaspoon salt

·         ½ cup of slivered almonds

·         1 cup Challenge Butter, softened

·         2/3 cup granulated sugar

·         1/2 cup brown sugar

·         1 egg

·         2 tablespoons of coffee

·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract

·         1 teaspoon of almond extract

·         1 cup of chocolate chips

·         Assorted small Valentine’s Day candies

·         Heart shaped cookie cutters

 

Royal Icing

·         2 egg whites

·         16 ounces of powdered or confectioners’ sugar

·         ½ teaspoon of almond extract

·         ½ cup of water, or as needed

·         Food coloring of your choice

·         Assorted cookie decorations or sprinkles if desired

 

 

Directions

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.    Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside until needed.

3.    Place almonds in a dry skillet over medium high heat. Toast until light golden brown and fragrant. Place almonds into a large food processor and pulse until almonds are finely ground and resemble flour.

4.    Add the butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg, coffee, vanilla and almond extract. Pulse until fully incorporated and creamy.

5.    Add flour mixture to food processor bowl.  Pulse until fully incorporated and dough starts to form into a ball.

6.    Place dough in a plastic bag or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator 1-2 hours (if you’re in a hurry, you can chill the dough for about 20 minutes in the freezer).

7.    Once chilled, divide into 6 sections.  I find it works best to place a sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper underneath the dough, and then roll. If dough is sticking to rolling pin, you can always use a second piece of parchment to place on top. This eliminates the need for extra flour which can be seen after baking and can make the cookies tough.

8.    You will need two heart shaped cookie cutters. One large heart and one that is about ½-1 inch smaller. Cut out 5 large hearts for each box. Peel off parchment paper and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the small heart cookie cutter, cut out the center of three of the hearts while on the cookie sheet not to disturb heart shape. These will be cut out hearts will be stacked to create your center. Leave the two remaining hearts whole, this will be your top and bottom of the box.

9.    Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes or until firm.

10.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet a few minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

11.  Place chocolate chips into a heavy duty plastic zipper bag. Heat chocolate in microwave until melted, checking progress every 30 seconds. Cut off a small portion of one corner to dispense chocolate.

12.  To assemble, squeeze chocolate on the back side of one of your hearts with cut out center. Attach to one of your solid hearts to create the bottom of your box. Add more chocolate to the top of the adhered cut out heart and attach the second heart. Repeat this process and attach the third heart. Let chocolate dry. Place your last remaining heart on top of box to cover.

13.  To make Royal Icing, place egg whites in a stand mixer bowl. Whip until they form a stiff peak. Add sugar, almond extract and enough water to create your desired consistency.  Divide frosting into bowls and color with food coloring as desired. Place frosting into piping bags and decorate the top portion of your heart box. Embellish with decorations if desired.

To finish boxes, fill center of box with candies, a sweet message or even concert or gift certificate! This is the perfect way to present jewelry or anything else that will fit inside the box. Wrap cookie boxes with plastic wrap to keep fresh. Boxes can then be put into a decorative bag and tied with ribbon for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift!

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