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October 20, 2011

Almond-Jam Thumbprint Cookies from Chef Ann Gentry

Colorful vegan cookies brighten the holiday table

All Animals magazine

  • Sara Remington

by Ruthanne Johnson

When it comes time to whip up a holiday feast, Ann Gentry has no problem meeting her friends’ and family’s expectations. The world-famous chef fills her table with traditional sides—sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and string bean casserole—and innovative main courses, such as acorn squash stuffed with sweet rice, vegetables, and currants and faux turkey breasts made from tofu, tempeh, and herbs. Satisfying the diverse palates at a typical family gathering requires “a lot of good tasty food and a real great spirit to it,” Gentry says.

It was the quest for body- and soul-nourishing food that first led Gentry into the kitchen nearly 30 years ago, after she left Memphis, Tenn., to pursue an acting career in New York City. The fast pace of auditioning, acting, and waiting tables took a toll on her body, spurring her to examine the connection between what she ate and how she felt. “I was a terrible cook in the beginning,” says Gentry. But a chef at the restaurant where she worked taught her some basics; before long, she was combining American vegetarian and Asian macrobiotic cuisines into savory creations she shared with her fellow actors.

Since 1993, Gentry has opened two Real Food Daily restaurants in California, starred in a cooking show, and authored two cookbooks. She attributes her success as much to her clients’ cravings as to her own skills: “People are hungry for good-quality, real food.”

Read a Q&A with Ann Gentry »

Almond-Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Makes about 36 cookies

Nourish your friends and family with these colorful cookies from Gentry’s recently published cookbook—they’re sure to be a holiday hit.

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups raw whole almonds
1 1/2 cups oat flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or barley flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup pure maple syrup
 1/4 cup apple juice
 1/4 cup neutral cooking oil (such as canola, grapeseed, safflower, or sunflower)
2 teaspoons almond extract
About 1/4 cup raspberry preserves, apricot preserves, or apple butter

1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Line two heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Pulse the almonds in food processor until they form a fine flour with some small speckles of nuts still visible. Leave some small bits of the almonds for a nice crunchy texture.

3. Stir the ground almonds, oat flour, pastry flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the maple syrup, apple juice, oil, and almond extract in a medium bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until blended.

4. Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop (about 2 tablespoons), scoop the dough in mounds onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. (If you don’t have an ice cream scoop, just roll 2 tablespoons of dough into a ball for each cookie.) Using the end of a wooden spoon, make an indentation about 1/2 inch in diameter that goes to the bottom of the cookie, but not through the bottom. Spoon the preserves into a pastry bag or a small resealable plastic bag with a bottom corner cut off. Pipe the preserves into each indentation, mounding them just above the top of the cookie (the jam will melt down as the cookies bake).

5. Bake the cookies until they puff and become pale golden on the top and bottom, about 25 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to cooling racks and let cool. Cookies will keep for two days, stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

From Vegan Family Meals, Real Food for Everyone by Ann Gentry. Andrews McMeel Publishing. Copyright 2011.

For more recipes, visit humanesociety.org/recipes.

Read more from this issue of All Animals.

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