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Easy Cinnamon Almond Wafers and A Food Gal Giveaway

The upside to working from home?

The fact that you can do a load of laundry, braise a pot of lamb shanks in the oven, and crank out a lengthy magazine story simultaneously.

The downside?

The temptation to snack. After all, food is just too darn convenient when you work just steps from  your kitchen.

Fortunately, one of the things I most find myself noshing on are almonds. I often grab a handful to munch just before I hit the computer or the gym. High in fiber and protein, they actually make for a nutritious snack so my pangs of guilt are at least lessened.

That’s what I tell myself, too, when I find myself reaching for another “Cinnamon Almond Wafer.” They’re strewn with almonds, so they must be good for me, even if they’re cookies, right? Uh, huh.

The recipe is from “The Gourmet Cookie Book” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a copy when it debuted in 2010. These cookies couldn’t be easier to make. They have the tender texture of a rolled-out sugar cookie. But they’re far easier to make because you pat out the dough (no rolling pin needed) and bake it in one big rectangle (no cookie cutters necessary). After pulling the pan out of the oven, you cut the rectangle into wafer-size pieces while still warm.

The cookies are covered in sliced almonds and a profusion of cinnamon sugar. There’s so much cinnamon and almond going on that my husband’s Persian-American colleague said they reminded him of Middle Eastern pastries. I upped the almond factor, too, by adding a dash of almond extract.

They’re the perfect cookie to enjoy on National Almond Day on Feb. 16 — or any day you feel in the mood to be a whole lot of nutty.

CONTEST: In honor of National Almond Day, the Almond Board of California is graciously allowing me to do a giveaway. And what a prize it is. (I know, because I got one myself to check out.) The Almond Board has stuffed a stylish (orange and toasted almond-colored) tote bag with whole almonds, sliced almonds, almond butter, almond flour, almond snack packs and cute little tins to conveniently hold a few almonds in your purse, car or desk drawer for whenever the urge strikes.

The contest is open only to those in the continental United States. Entries will be accepted through midnight PST Feb. 17. Winner will be announced on Feb. 19.

How to win?

Tell me something nutty that you’ve done that you kick yourself for now.

Here’s my own response:

“When I moved back to the Bay Area after working for four years in South Florida, I definitely got sticker-shock when renting an apartment on the Peninsula. My parents did, too. In fact, they offered to help me buy a condo instead, with them fronting the down payment in order for me to assume the monthly mortgage payments. But stubborn me, who didn’t want to be so beholden to my parents, turned down their generous offer. Instead, I continued to pay rent, which soon turned quite exorbitant when the dot-com boom hit, driving up real estate and rental prices to stratospheric levels. Of course, I do kick myself now, realizing how affordable condo prices were way back then, and how much they eventually skyrocketed in value. Sigh. What a good investment that would have made. I guess I’ll just drown my sorrows in a plate of cinnamon almond wafers now.”

Cinnamon Almond Wafers

(Makes about 50 wafers)

1 3/4 sticks (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup sliced almonds

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter with the brown sugar, the zest, and 1 tablespoon of the egg until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in almond extract, if using, then the flour.

On a lightly buttered baking sheet (or one lined with parchment or a Silpat sheet), pat the dough into a 14-by-10-inch rectangle, brush it with remaining egg, and sprinkle it evenly with the almonds.

In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the almonds. Bake the pastry in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is golden. While it is still hot, cut it into 2-by-1-inch wafers. Transfer wafers to racks and let them cool.

Adapted from “The Gourmet Cookie Book”

More Delicious Recipes with Almonds: Cocoa-Marzipan Pound Cake by David Lebovitz

And: Two Types of Chinese Almond Cookies

And: Brown Sugar and Almond Biscotti

And: Lemon Ricotta Muffins

And: Almond Tart with Mirabelle Cream

And: Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting