Lalo’s Famous Cookies (or In Defense of Paltrow)

I’ve always liked Gwyneth Paltrow, as much as I could like anyone I don’t know. I admire her work as an actor and I find it both charming and courageous that she also sings, dances, speaks Spanish, writes about food, raises kids, practices yoga, etc., etc. She seems like someone I’d want to be friends with. She demonstrates a good sense of humor, seems curious about the world and engaged in her life—honestly, she seems kind of awesome.

But maybe that is beside the point.

This week she published My Father’s Daughter, her first cookbook.

From the moment the book was announced, many inside (and outside) of the food industry have been rolling their eyes. For whatever reason, Paltrow has a lot of haters. Maybe because she seems so awesome. Maybe because we like to keep people in boxes. I’m sure everyone has a reason. But why not direct animosity at a celebrity like Charlie Sheen? And why not spend some time with the book before you criticize it?

I’ve been most confused by the criticism centered around the fact that she is privileged. Everyone writing about food is privileged! She is entering into good company. I don’t really expect her to apologize (or remain silent) because her life is different than mine. Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl and Martha Stewart all live in different income brackets than I do, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to listen to them talk about food.

But maybe that isn’t the point, either.

The book’s the thing.

When the book arrived at my door I felt some trepidation. I wasn’t exactly sure what I expected, but I wanted it to be good. I’ve found myself defending it a lot lately and I was worried I would be disappointed. I wasn’t. The book couldn’t disappoint, it is too good-natured.

My Father’s Daughter is beautifully produced—thanks, it seems, in large part to the talented Julia Turshen who collaborated with her on the production. Paltrow’s recollections of her late father are sweet, and I was moved by her admiration and love for him. Overall, I was interested and engaged. It was a glimpse into her kitchen, and into her relationship with food—which is what I like about cookbooks and blogs.

Don’t get me wrong, the book isn’t revolutionary and won’t necessarily change your life. But why should it be? If that was a requirement for publication most cookbooks (and blogs!) would not exist. The book is personal, and contains enough interesting recipes to keep me turning the page. Sure, lots of her fans will buy the book simply because she is on the cover, but I am glad that they will also get a collection of easy to prepare and healthy recipes.

Money doesn’t protect your ego and I admire Paltrow for taking risks like singing at the Country Music Awards or publishing a cookbook. I hope she keeps cooking, and keeps advocating for good food. I’ll continue to listen.

And as they say, the proof is in the pudding. In this case, cookies. These barley-almond thumbprints were immediately fascinating to me—it seemed impossible that they would taste good. But they do, they taste great. And are incredibly healthy, at least in terms of cookies. Win-win.

Think of them as a snack,more like a granola bar than a chocolate chip cookie. Throw a couple in your bag for an on-the-go snack, or let your kids go crazy on a plate of them. They are totally satisfying, and typical of the sort of simple and easily likable recipes Paltrow has filled her first cookbook with.

Lalo’s Famous Cookies (from My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow)

  • 4 cups barley flour
  • 3 cups raw whole almonds crushed in a food processor (about ten 2-second pulses)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • jam (I really liked raspberry but Paltrow also recommends apricot or blueberry)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine all of the ingredients, except the jam, in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Form into rounded tablespoon-sized balls and space them evenly on baking sheets lined with parchment. Use your index finger or the end of a wooden spoon to make an indentation and fill each cookie with a small amount of jam. Bake until cookies are evenly browned, about 20 minutes.

84 comments to “Lalo’s Famous Cookies (or In Defense of Paltrow)”

  1. I find Gwyneth Paltrow beautiful, she can really sing, but I think she’s not all that as an actress – the proof that the Oscars are not fair at all, she has one and Glenn Close has none (for instance). I think she’s pretty limited as an actress.
    The fact the she doesn’t look like someone who eats might be the reason so many people don’t get the cookbook thing (myself included). And for the record, I feel the same about Giada.

    These cookies look amazing, though – I might change my mind. :)

  2. This book has been getting a lot of positive press elsewhere too! Atlantic had some nice things to say about it. Plus, she is the most hilarious character on Glee, and I hail from the age when “Gwyneth” was used as an adjective to describe a lovely lady–I’m glad to see so many good things coming to and from her.

  3. Those cookies look amazing! Thumbprints are one of my favorites and I will try this recipe out for Easter or spring brunch. I think Gwyneth Paltrow is pretty and talented. Some people just have a jealous nature. They might be better off using that negative energy to make their own lives better in some ways.

  4. Sivan Harlap says:

    April 17th, 2011 at 6:52 am

    great post, Tim! i likey!!

  5. I was surprised when I heard that Gwyneth Paltrow had come out with a cookbook… but I really didn’t find out any more about it. Now that I’ve seen this recipe, I’m much more interested. Looks wonderful. Thanks for featuring it!

  6. Well, opinions of G.P aside, I have a batch of these coming out of the oven, and I can attest that they are a cinch to pull together, smell wonderful baking, and look and taste great. The recipe, probably because it is so simple, is really adaptable too. Just by low-on-ingredients necessity, I used half barley and half spelt flour, and a mix of almonds and walnuts. For gluten-free Fariba, I would maybe try a combo of oat and amaranth or quinoa rather than the buckwheat, but that’s just a guess! And if anyone’s not a big fan of maple syrup, maybe try subbing honey for some of it, because the maple flavor is really prominent.
    And just to add my two cents… maybe the most admirable thing about G.P is that she seems never to have had a mean or defensive word to say in response to all the hating. So good for her. Thanks, Tim!!!

  7. You couldn’t have said it better about GP….I too received her cookbook and Super Natural Everyday in the mail last week…both great reads and I have already made the baked granola…AWESOME! Next are the cookies above!

    Your blog is fantastic!!!

  8. hi TIm!

    RE: Gwyneth??

    i’ve always enjoyed Gwyneth’s acting but when i heard she was going to be singing on the last grammy show, sadly, i too scoffed. until, of course, i heard she’d be singing with Cee Lo and that got my attention. G won my heart whilst doing a not great but perfectly good job singing WHILE wearing those (what? 6″?) crazy shoes! and, if that wasn’t enough, she gets DOWN on that piano, and then gets back UP on those giant shoes without a scratch on herself, the piano, the muppets, or the “fabulous” Cee Lo. far as i’m concerned, she can do anything. and should. just had to get that out. (cookies look yummy.)

    hope you’re well!
    all the Xs and Os

  9. Hi! I included this post in this weeks from my reader round-up. Loved the post and thought it would be super useful to my friends and readers. BTW I totally agree with you in reference to GP

  10. hmm it’s “healthier” alternatives to the basic flour, sugar, butter but at the amounts combined, how can it go wrong, it’s just as indulgent [-;

  11. @Aveen – Bob’s Red Mill ships internationally. Worth a shot. Their products are all over the US and (I believe) very well-thought of.

    I can’t wait to try these cookies!

  12. There is a recipe I have had forever that is calle “Life Changing Vegan Thumbprints” that I saw on ( – I have no idea where the recipe came from but these look very similar – and awesome!! I’ve been on a cookie kick and these look so easy.

    And Amen – I too love Gywennie. It took me a while to get there, I’ll admit, but I stepped back and thought about why I didn’t love her and I had 0 reasons. She is amazing! I wish I had half her chutzpah and talent.

    love love love lottie+doof….thanks for always bringing us such fun things!!

  13. THANK YOU! I totally feel the same way about Gwyneth Paltrow. Love her blog (she introduced me to my favorite exercise method-Tracy Anderson Method!!), love GOOP, love her in movies, and I love the new cookbook. She seems like a really nice, COOL person. She has a lot of cool interests, and isn’t that why we read people’s blogs? To find out what fabulous, cool, and possibly wealthy people are into? It’s what we want from celebrities, and the fact that she is offering it somehow rubs people the wrong way.

    I don’t understand people’s obsession with hating her. She has this awful food reputation, most people think she is some anorexic health nut that turns her nose up at everyone and only drinks detox juice. It totally bums me out, and I feel like whenever I mention her in public I end up defending her to the death. So thumbs up to you for putting out a positive post about her. :)

  14. thank you for this post! i don’t understand the crazy hatred towards this talented, seemingly fun, healthy, and brave woman. jealousy can be ugly, but i think there is value to be learned here. i work full time, juggle hobbies, love, exercise, etc with cooking healthy and delicious meals, too. she’s in a high-profile version of many of our lives, so i personally love that she wrote a cookbook. she might not be alice waters, but she is fabulous and i can’t wait to get her book. in the meantime, i’ll make these cookies!

  15. I like her, too. Will make these but substitute sunflowers seeds for nuts. GP would approve, I think.

  16. And PS – She does have a good voice!

  17. What can I use as a barley flour substitute?? Suggestions?
    Thx! I love GP by the way. She has amazing food aesthetic

  18. Will the dough freeze?

  19. I don’t know, Chris. I didn’t try.

  20. I thought GP was a g-free-er? I’m with @Antonia, what can we swap out that barley for? Anything gluten free? Sigh.

  21. GP is not gluten-free. let me know if you guys figure out a good sub.

  22. Thank you for this post. I took umbrage at the GP smack-talkin’, too, and wanted to add that it seems like successful women are so often the target of anger, while there are so many wealthy men in the world doing much worse deeds than writing about healthy food, singing, acting, etc. I felt the same way when Martha was slandered and sentenced to prison – maybe she isn’t the nicest person, but what harm is she doing? I still like her recipes. I’m looking forward to trying these cookies (I confess to also thinking ‘chocolate ganache!’ when I saw the jam filling : ))

  23. Gardener says:

    May 29th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    These were quick and easy to put together. I was a little worried when the dough seemed very oily, but the cookies ended up crisp and good. Mine were done in 17 minutes at 350. I used Bob’s Red Mill barley flour. (I had never worked with barley flour before. There’s a nice, slightly nutty flavor.) I used 4 different jams…lemon, fig, blackberry and raspberry. All were good. The maple flavor did not come through too strong. One might try honey or golden syrup as cheaper alternatives. I plan to add a teaspoon of vanilla to the batter next time to see if that adds a dimension of flavor. Definitely worth making.

  24. and to add a little to this lovely recipe…this is a macrobiotic standard. it works well with agave or any variety of nuts you have on hand. I also often make without any jam. yum, yum!

  25. I LOVE these and they are so easy to make too! The idea of a ‘wholesome’ or healthier cookie holds huge appeal for me (and most people). I plan on replacing my breakfast/cereal bars with them. Does anyone know the NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION on these?

  26. I know that worrying about the calories in a cookie almost cancels out the enjoyment of the cookie, but would anyone know [or be able to figure out] how many calories there are in each of these gems?

  27. Whoa,what’s going on guys? Why is everyone suddenly concerned with the nutritional info on these cookies? I have no idea, and I am guessing nobody does. Since the cookies call for jam, the jam used will effect nutritional info.

  28. This cookie recipe is a winner. From the moment I read it in her cookbook, I knew that the thumbprints were going to be well received. I have made 3 batches in the last month. My college age daughter and her friends couldn’t get enough of them. Then they read the cookbook, loved the design, the photographs, and how well it was written. Then we had a great conversation about Gwyneth Paltrow and how talented she is. What a good afternoon of mother, daughter and friends bonding on a winter day with healthy cookies. Thank you, Gwyneth.

  29. I made these cookies for my sister-in-law to have as healthy treats since she just became a mom. They were part of my care package and she loved them. I made some of the pasta dishes for her as well and my Mexican Papa loved the ragu. I have to say that I love reviewing cookbooks and I usually get a few good recipes out of them, but Paltrow’s book had many recipes that I look forward to cooking. It is family friendly and full of delicious ideas.

  30. Thanks for this post. I just tried making these cookies and I love them! I added a splash of almond extract and it gave them a very nice floral note. I look forward to perusing Paltrow’s new cookbook.

  31. I made these this morning and was so surprised how much I love them! Not really a difficult cookie to eat and so delicious! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

  32. has anyone else found these difficult to form? I have tried various degrees of processing the nuts, and I always find that the cookies kind of fall apart when you try to put the indent in them, as well as after cooking. I find that I have to form the indent, repairing the edges as I go…is this just me, or has anyone else had this struggle – i am thinking I should try the recipe with less flour perhaps?

  33. thanks for the recipe – just finishing up a 1/2 batch now – 1/2 batch stil makes a lot of cookies (35) and tastes wonderful. using a blueberry rhubarb butter, apricot jam and raspberry jam

  34. i just made these cookies tonight, and they were delicious!!! SO easy and fun to make! i didn’t have barley flour so i used spelt instead, and it worked perfectly!! i imagine the barley flour makes it more fluffy and soft–i’m excited to try that next time! i also subbed some of the almonds for pecans and the result was great :) love love love this recipe! thanks so much for sharing! it’s my new favorite cookie recipe, and so healthy too! =)