We’re going a bit nutty, so I’ve taken that as my theme for this week’s cookie. Here’s a tasty batch of amaretti cookies.
This is an old recipe of mine, and one that I make quite a lot. It’s also a perfect way to use up any left-over egg whites. I’ve got a couple of other good biscuit recipes in mind which use just egg yolks, and even in normal times I hate to waste egg whites. But now that we need to limit our visits of food stores (just once a week people!), it is just not an option.
And the real boon with this recipe is that the cookies taste really great, and actually much better than they really should given the limited amount of work you have to put into making them. This really is one of those throw-it-all-in-a-bowl recipes, then just roll them and bake them. They are the opposite to that other great user of egg whites, the complex, time-consuming macarons.
The method here is super-easy. Just lightly whisk the egg whites, then add sugar, ground almonds and a little flour. Then mix well. Job done! If this mixture is firmer, then you will ball-like cookies with a crisp outside and soft, chewy interior. If the mixture is softer, then they will flatten down during baking and look more like traditional cookies. As a rule of thumb – a medium egg white yields the former, and a large egg white yields the latter.
So there you have it – lovely golden cookies with jaunty, random cracks on the surface. An easy way to bring a bit of la dolce vita to your afternoon coffee while travel to actual Italy remains off limits.
To make almond biscuits (makes 12):
• 1 medium egg white
• 100g ground almonds
• 100g caster sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
• 1 1/2 tablespoons plain flour(*)
• extra caster sugar to sprinkle
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and rub lightly with oil.
2. In a bowl, whip the egg white lightly. Add everything else and mix well. The mixture should be firm and not be wet – you should be able to take pieces and roll them into balls. If the dough seems too wet, add equal amounts of almonds and sugar to bring the dough together. If too dry, add a couple of drops of water.
3. Take teaspoons of the mixture and form into rough balls. Using slightly damp hands, roll into smooth spheres. Place them on the baking tray with space to allow them to spread. Flatten each one slightly. Sprinkle with caster sugar.
4. Bake the cookies for around 15 minutes until lightly golden on the edges (they will be paler in the centre). Turn the tray around half-way during baking to get an even colour.
(*) I’ve made these with wheat flour and gluten-free flour. Both work equally well.