When I googled ‘almond biscuits’ yesterday the second item that turned up (after the obligatory wikipedia page) was from the website of the Producers of McLaren Vale, with a recipe from my Mum! Freaky but true – I guess Google have really worked out who I am now.
So clearly this was the recipe I was after. I’ve followed it fairly exactly, but have added some orange zest and a dash of amaretto liqueur. These are honestly the easiest biscuits to make. There are very few ingredients, and no complicated processes – just mix, form and bake.
For the italophiles out there, these are also known as amaretti. The biscuits are crisp on the outside, but wonderfully chewy in the middle. They also happen to be the best accompaniment to an espresso in the world.
But the thing about this recipe is it only uses egg whites, so you have three egg yolks left over. This is your chance to make an unbelievably good Italian dessert – zabaglione with amaretti.
Zabaglione is kind of like a custard, but very thick, almost like a mousse. It’s traditionally made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet marsala wine, but I like to make it with amaretto liqueur (are you sensing a trend). Amaretti biscuits dipped into hot zabaglione is, well, heavenly.
Three yolks makes just the right amount for two people, so if you’re feeding more just make more biscuits and you’ll have more egg yolks!
Before I get into that though, a quick note on blanching almonds. This is really easy, particularly when you have the beautiful Johnston almonds grown by my parents. This variety is typified by large kernels with thick, wrinkly skins.
To remove the skins you just need to soak the almonds in boiling water for a few minutes. After draining you’ll be able to pinch the skin off of the kernels in a trice.
Almond biscuits (Amaretti)
200g almond meal (I used ‘brown meal’ which is made from skin-on kernels)
1 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
zest of 1/2 an orange
1-2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
3 egg whites at room temperature
24ish whole blanched almonds
Pre-heat your oven to 160°C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl, mix the almond meal, sugar, flour, orange zest and Amaretto liqueur. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they are stiff, then mix the egg whites into the other ingredients. You should end up with a thick paste.
Form the mixture into balls, one tablespoonful at a time and place on the baking trays. Press one blanched almond into the centre of each biscuit and flatten the ball slightly.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the biscuits are just blushing with golden colour. When cooked, remove the biscuits immediately to wire racks to cool.
3 egg yolks, at room temperature
50g castor sugar
1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
Get a few centimeters of water boiling in a pot. Pick a bowl that will sit well on top of your pot, then add all of the ingredients. Turn the pot down to a simmer then sit the bowl on top and whisk like crazy. Depending on how fit you are this may be a job for two people.
Your zabaglione is done when it is a lighter colour, fluffy and doesn’t have any raw yolk taste. This should only take a few minutes.
Pour the zabaglione into glasses (martini glasses are perfect because they are easy to dip the biscuits into), serve with some of your amaretti biscuits, and ascend instantly to a sugary heaven.