It doesn’t take much to put me in the mood for baking. A slight sugar craving, the distant creep of ennui, or some spare eggs knocking around the kitchen—all reason enough to whack the oven on, don an apron, and beat some eggs.
Things have been a little crazy around here lately. We’re moving to London; the boy proposed over wood-roasted sea bream at Moro; I underwent five interviews in 48 hours, and now I’m taking a moment to breath—a little baking in the kitchen seemed like a good place to start.
I’am a loyal fan of almond-based biscuits. Having convinced myself almonds are better for the waist-line than flour, my taste buds tend to veer towards the macarons and meringues. I even make crumble with ground and flaked almonds—it’s dense, but still delicious. So, I’d been reading about amaretti somewhere in the weekend papers, and since we had a bottle of Amaretto in the cupboard, the biscuits were begging to be made.
Like all recipes involving stiff egg whites, the emphasis is on well-whipped and separated whites, glossy and aerated. After that it’s a case of gently folding, making sure not to let the air out. If I’m honest, I’ve never really understood how you ensure no air is lost from the whites, but I guess if they’re still looking fluffy you’re doing ok.
The sugar and almonds combine easily with the egg whites—I was using a fairly fast setting for the beating. Once you feel all the ingredients are incorporated you add the alcohol.
The mixture becomes more paste-like and very easy to work with. I did experiment with piping instead of spooning. The piped variants were a lot smaller and neater, but it’s a personal preference, really.
One or two recipes recommend a longer cooking period to dry out the biscuits. You can prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon, and leave the biscuits for another 20-30 minutes in the oven. This allows them to crisp up without colouring any further.
These biscuits were too tasty—we ate them for breakfast, lunch and supper. They’re light and delicious and easy to make. I highly recommend whipping up a batch.
340g/12oz ground almonds
340g/12oz caster sugar
4 eggs, whites only
40ml/1fl oz amaretto liquor
butter, for greasing
flaked almonds for decorating (optional)
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Separate your egg and in a large bowl beat the egg whites until firm. Mix the sugar and the almonds gently into it.
Add the amaretto liquor and fold in gently until you have a smooth paste. Place some greaseproof paper on a baking sheet lightly brushed with butter. Using a teaspoon place small heaps of the mixture approximately
2cm apart, as they will expand whilst cooking. Decorate with a few flaked almonds.
Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes until golden brown.