Tag Archives: almond

Scorched almond and chocolate brownies (wheat or gluten free)

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So here I am again, posting a random recipe after a long time away. I’ve been thinking about this blog a lot recently, trying to work out what I would do about it. Then yesterday I made these awesome brownies and I really didn’t want to lose the recipe, so the obvious thing was to post it here. I’ve found this site a really useful archive generally, and so I’ve decided that I’m going to continue breaking all the rules – I won’t post daily, or weekly, or even regularly. I won’t focus on a particular topic or theme and I won’t make any promises about keeping this up! In short I’ve decided that I want to keep this blog around, but as I really don’t have the time to do much blogging, I’ll just be happy with doing the little bits that I can and keeping the site going as a personal archive. If no one reads it, well, I don’t care!

So, I started with this recipe for these brownies, but I took it in a different direction by adding roasted almonds and my favourite Amaretto liqueur. They ended up tasting like a cake version of scorched almonds (not sure if that is going to translate out of Australia, but essentially scorched almonds are just chocolate coated roasted almonds). In other words, delicious!

I made these with 1/2 cup rice flour and 1/2 cup rye flour, making them wheat free. If you want gluten free replace the rye flour with a gluten-free flour and make sure your other ingredients (especially the cocoa and baking powder) are also gluten free.

Almond and Chocolate Brownies

handful whole almonds (how precise am I!)
150g butter
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
scant 1/4 teaspoon vanilla concentrate (or equivalent of vanilla essence)
2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
To make
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Put the almonds on a baking tray and add to the oven while it is heating, roast until they are slightly fragrant and the skins have turned a deeper brown. If you’re not sure if they are done eat one! The inside should have become slightly darker. Once they are done remove from oven and allow to cool a bit, then chop roughly (so each kernel is in thirds-ish).
Butter a 20 x 30cm tin and line with baking paper.
Melt the butter and leave to cool.
Sift the flours, baking powder and cocoa into a large bowl. Add the sugars and mix gently. Make a well in the centre. Add the eggs, vanilla and Amaretto to the cooled melted butter and mix so the eggs are lightly beaten. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix with a metal spoon until just combined. Add the chopped almonds and stir through.
Pour the batter into the tray, spread out evenly and then bake for 15-20 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean).
J

Zesty Almond Biscuits and Zabaglione

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

to make

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.

Zabaglione

3 egg yolks, at room temperature
50g castor sugar
1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur

to make

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.

J

life is like an almond tree (at the moment anyway)

Well then.

It’s been a while.

Life has rather emphatically resumed, and blogging and its associated delights have been pushed aside by an influx of real work.

For the first time in over a month I’ve had the time to take a deep breath and think about writing. Since it’s been such a while I though I might get this show back on the road with a little autobiographical aside, a bit of back-story covering the last month or so.

When I came home to Australia I had a plan. Back to university full-time. Six months of income support from The Man and then onto a research scholarship (these are awarded once a year and I’ve missed the round for 2011).

Unfortunately The Man is a philistine and didn’t want to support me in my endeavors to spread the light of learning and enquiry. End result, I had to get a job.

Two weeks after getting home I was ‘back in black’ ‘workin nine-to-five’, and other song references. I was also spending 3 hours a day commuting from the farm to the office. Spare time was taken up with house hunting and looking for a continuing job. Time passed, or rather raced.

Last week everything changed again, as Andrew and I moved into our own house, he started university again, and I started a new job at one of the local universities. I’m now working part-time, am poised and ready to submit my Masters application and life is getting back onto the planned track.

With a more forgiving work schedule I’m now hoping – no definitely planning – on having more time to get blogging again – I mean I’ve barely been cooking over the last two months. I’m also hoping that getting back into research will provide some good topics to mull over in this space.

I’m writing all of this back at the farm (we’re having the internet connected at the flat tomorrow) and I’m current sitting in the middle of ten acres of blossoming almond trees. They’ve been bare and quiet all winter, leaves and fruit both shed in the autumn. Suddenly though, everything is happening, as they burst into flower in preparation for next year’s harvest – I think you see the metaphor!

So, that’s it really. My life to this point, from another point a few months ago, and illustrated with photos and metaphors from the farm in bloom.

I hope – no intend – to see you soon!

J