Category Archives: Cookies

Hazelnut Amaretti with Chocolate Drizzles

So what did I do with all those left over egg whites from the Challah?

I made these soft amaretti of course.  Just getting in practice for Christmas I tell myself, plus I can offer them to Choclette for her cooking event, we should cocoa.

These are based on the ones that Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial introduced me to last year and they are incredibly popular with everyone who the recipe has been shared with. Are they that easy to make?  Yes!  Patrick’s four-year old made them last weekend so what are you waiting for?

So I hope these are acceptable Choclette!  All I can say is that they are really expensive in the shops in their fancy tins and if you know someone who is a nut fan then this is a winner every time!

I used:

  • 250 grams ground almonds
  • 200 grams ground hazelnuts
  • 50 grams ground pistachio nuts
  • 4 egg whites
  • 400 grams sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of amaretto di saronno (optional but good)

Chocolate for dipping and drizzling

  • 100 grams of 85% dark chocolate (Fair Trade Co op)
  • 50 grams of milk choc chips (not sure where they came from)

To make:

  • Grind up any nuts that you might need for this.
  • Hazelnuts with their skins on are good. I used up the last of the ones I foraged a few weeks ago plus a few more that I bought and added some pistachio nuts and some ground almonds too.
  • Mix with the sugar and the egg whites till you have a nice sticky solid mass.
  • Put some baking parchment on baking trays.
  • Spoon out the mixture into blobs if you like blobs.
  • If you want high little macaroons then you need to wet your hands and roll the mixture into proper balls.  Today I went for mostly blobs and a couple of little ones.
  • Heat the oven to 160 C.  Put in oven and bake until the tops start to crack a little or until the edges of the blobs start to turn a little brown. Anywhere from 12 minutes to half an hour depending on how big you have made them.  They should be soft when you take them out.
  • Break up your chocolate into small pieces and put in a pyrex bowl. Keep back about 30 per cent of the chocolate in small pieces. Microwave on high in short 20 second bursts till it is melted. Stir in between each burst. Once it is melted, add the chocolate you kept back and allow to melt at room temperature. If it really won’t go then give it another 10 seconds in the microwave.

At this point your husband tells you  to drizzle the chocolate with a knife – as you don’t know what he is talking about, you ask him to do it. So he does. He also demonstrates how to half dip a biscuit.  As there was a tiny bit of chocolate left over we dug out a silicon chocolate mould and put some marshmallows in the holes and poured the last bit of chocolate over them and made chocolate buttons. No wasting chocolate in this house!

Apricot Bakewell Slice

A is for Apricots

Apricot Bakewell Slice

Everyone has their favourite bars and cakes, this is one of Brian’s. His Gran made it for him with apricot jam because he can’t eat raspberry or any berries without coming out in a delightful rash. Might be more information than you want to know but that’s why this is not the usual raspberry jam version.

The key components of a bakewell slice, are a bottom, a middle and a topping, ( I sound like my old English teacher describing how to write an essay, hah!) and there must be fruit in there and there must be ground almonds. Having said that, there are probably nut free versions out there too. Some bakewells are topped with white icing and cherries, this one was finished off with handcut almond chips, because we had run out of flaked almonds. With hindsight the almond chips made it almost impossible to cut this rich soft bar cleanly, though being home blanched and cut, they were of course fresher tasting than those packet ones you buy ( and a bit cheaper).

To print this recipe off as a pdf click here.

This slice used an 8 “ x 10 “ tin.
I lined the bottom with baking parchment. Another time I might line the sides as well, but it did lift out with a knife run round the edges once it had cooled down a bit.

For the pastry base

Use whatever pastry makes you happy – I used a creme fraiche shortcrust pastry made with 100 grams plain sifted flour and a pinch of salt rubbed together with 50 grams cold butter cut into little bits plus a tablespoon of creme fraiche to bring the pastry together.

You might be better off doubling this as it only makes just enough for a very thin base and you might want some more pastry to play with.

Chll the pastry before you roll it out.

I cut the parchment for the tin first, then used that to cut the pastry base by placing the parchment on top of the rolled out pastry.

Before I worked out how to do labels!

Then I pricked the pastry lightly with a fork and spread half a jar of homemade apricot jam over it, about 220 grams in all and put the tray in the fridge to chill for about half an hour.

The topping was made as the Bakewell Bar recipe in Rachel Allen’s lovely book Bake: From Cookies to Casseroles. She uses a different base more like a shortbread biscuit.

I made the topping with:

100 grams of ground almonds (almond meal)
100 grams of fine semolina
2 eggs beaten lightly with a fork
100 grams of melted butter
100 grams of golden caster sugar
2 heaped teaspoons of mahlab (optional and not particularly traditional)

but you could use a little almond essence if you like the taste of it, that’s what it tastes of traditionally, but I always think it tastes a bit artificial. You could use something like kirsch to add a hint of bitterness to the almonds maybe?

Mix the eggs with the melted cooled butter and almond essence, then add the dry ingredients and mix it all up really well. I let it sit for about ten minutes so that the nuts and semolina could fluff up.

The topping is quite stiff, so you need to be careful about how you put it on top of the jam as you want the jam to stay put as a separate layer. I put small blobs all over and then joined them up with a palette knife, it works fairly well.

Then press the flaked or chipped almonds into the top and bake for about 25 minutes in a 180 º  C  (350 º F)  oven until the top is golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin before cutting, it is very soft and crumbly so take your time doing this.

A slice of apricot bakewell – hope Brian’s Gran would approve…

Like so many cakes made with almonds, if you can bear it, it is better to leave this for a couple of days before eating. It will taste better, more almondy. But I understand if you can’t wait! It is incredibly filling and calorific but very delicious!

Blueberry Choc Chip Cookies by Dan Lepard

A cookie before bedtime

I never make cookies. I don’t drink milk, so no cookies. On the other hand, I can always be persuaded to try something new. Or I like to think so. As Celia, Suelle and Jacqueline had all made these and said they were great, I found myself making cookies at 9 pm tonight.

I used dried cranberries and raisins instead of blueberries or sour cherries which are the fruits Dan wrote in the recipe  but I didn’t have those and I did have cranberries….. (why were they in the cupboard? Who knows, they were relieved to get out of there that’s for sure)…. and some raisins and some milk choc chips and I confess I cooked them a bit hot as I misread the temperature instructions.  So they are a little browner maybe than they are supposed to be and a bit crisper, but you know what I don’t care, because they are cookies and they are mine and they are delicious and use wholemeal flour and brown sugar and are still a delight, so what’s not to love about them? Tell me if you can.

Edit Feb 2012 : If you feel tempted the recipe is still on the Guardian’s website, it is no longer available on Dan’s website however,which is where I linked to originally,  so you can’t see all the photos of my friends’ cookies anymore.

By the way I forgot to ask…. what’s your favourite cookie?  I think mine is straight choc chip or english shortbread biscuits, or maybe ginger nuts, or maybe dark chocolate digestives….but these are pretty tasty and easy to customize to suit!