Sunday, 28 February 2010
Orange and almond soft amaretti
Sometimes baking is the best hangover cure. If I'm incapable of making intelligent conversation after a big night out, I usually find I'm better in the kitchen, assembling some kind of treat. These soft orange almond biscuits were the result of having lots of left over egg whites in the fridge, and it's a great way to use them up. The biscuits have a slight crust on the outside and a wonderfully soft and chewy centre, perfumed with orange zest, orange flower water and vanilla. They are similar to the Italian amaretti morbidi. I think these are ideally eaten in multiples of at least six with a cup of coffee. And they're totally gluten-free.
Makes about 50 small biscuits. Adapted from Tracey Seamon's Italian almond cookie recipe on Epicurious.
You will need:
American measuring cups (so much easier to measure stuff out in when you are feeling fragile - less phaffing about with scales!)
Piping bag (easier to make uniform sized biscuits)
6 medium organic free range egg whites
5.5 cups ground almonds
1 1/3 cups golden Fairtrade caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp orange flower water
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 2 organic oranges
Preheat the oven to 160C. Place greaseproof non-stick baking parchment onto flat oven trays. (You may have to do several batches of biscuits in the oven, unless you own a lot of trays). Zest the orange rinds and keep to one side. Mix the ground almonds and 1 cup of the sugar together. In a separate bowl, whisk your egg whites together at high speed (I use an electric hand whisk) with the salt until you have soft peaks. Then add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, and continue to whisk on a medium speed until you have stiff glossy peaks. Gently fold the eggs into the almond and sugar mixture using a spatula so that you don't knock all the air out of the whites. Add the vanilla extract, orange flower water and orange zest and mix together. Your mixture should look like this:
Spoon your mixture into a piping bag. (No need to put a metal nozzle on the piping bag). Squeeze small coils of mixture onto your baking tray, spacing each biscuit a couple of inches apart:
Bake for about 20 minutes until lightly golden, then remove and cool on a wire rack. These biscuits keep well in an airtight tin for several days, or can be frozen for several weeks (if you can resist eating them for that long...).