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Sweet Toof: Almond toffee crunch cookies from Lily’s Cookies 

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Stepping into Lily’s Cookies (2716 McCullough, (210) 832-0886) is like being transported to a real-life Keebler tree. Mobile tray racks line the space with just about every step of the sugar cookie process from blank canvases to delicately piped works of art that can take the shape of a googly-eyed owl, a Mexican dress or even the Alamo. Metallic workstations are filled with clear cellophane bags and a faint smell of sugar fills the air.

Lily’s moved to its Monte Vista location five years ago and is known for its ornate sugar cookies, not limited to the aforementioned creations. The lineup changes frequently and seasonally: Flowers and butterflies make way for Easter eggs and bunnies in the spring, and pumpkins turn into turkeys in the fall.

Orders range from the low-key two-dozen minimum to thousands of piped cookies for corporate clients. And no request is off-limits, although some have been known to make owner Christine McCrae-Kelly blush.

The shop started carrying favorites including chocolate chip and Mexican wedding cookies as well as several dessert bars in 2009. The almond toffee crunch is a relatively new addition to the revolving cookie bar lineup, and it’s been a hit so far for McCrae-Kelly. At 65 cents a pop, or $7 for a dozen, the cookie bar lets folks taste a few goodies while not forking over a ton of cash.

While I’m no cookie monster, I have been known to stalk Girl Scouts for a pack (or seven) of Trefoils (or shortbread in case you’re in some other region). So when I stumbled on the almond toffee crunch variety via Lily’s Cookies, I knew I had to have this recipe. The cookies are chewy on the inside and loaded with chunks of toffee and almonds, while still crispy on the outside.

The recipe is simple enough to make. While it can be halved, I recommend committing to the original amount and not skimping on the toffee bits to really nail that chewy center.

Almond Toffee Crunch Cookies
Makes 4 dozen

Dry ingredients:
6 1/3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Additional ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
4 1/2 ounces chopped toffee pieces

Cream butter and both sugars. Add eggs, oil, vanilla and mix well. Sift together dry ingredients. Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Stir in almonds and toffee pieces. Scoop rounded tablespoons onto parchment-paper lined cookie sheets. Bake in a 350-degree oven until lightly browned around edges, about 10 to 12 minutes.

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