Il dolce far niente
Some of the best inventions come from simple mistakes made in the kitchen!
In an attempt to make almond meal for an Orange Ricotta Cake (recipe coming soon), my blanched almonds still had too much moisture to be processed and I ended up with a bowl of paste-like substance.
Now, I could not let this go to waste, but I knew that something nostalgic could spring from this.
As a kid, my parents always took my brother and I to Marbella Club in Dubai every month and at the end of a sumptuous meal they would order themselves a macchiato or ristretto. These hot mini cups would arrive with these soft, bite sized almond cookies, that were instantly snatched by, of course, me! They were slightly crisp on top, but ridiculously soft on the inside, and the strong nutty almond paste miraculously enveloped your taste buds.
So, this attempt worked perfect to bring back the good ol’ days of childhood.
The almond paste is mixed with some icing sugar and almond essence and a pinch of salt to create a marzipan like paste. Then add some cocoa powder, sugar, sea salt, and then some vanilla and an egg white. As my batter was quite runny, I added a few spoons of flour, although a traditional Amaretti Italian cookie has no flour. (But this isn’t an authentic Italian recipe, this is just my version!)
I baked them on a greased paper for about 12-13 minutes, but felt a few minutes longer would have been better, which I have adjusted in the below recipe.
The finish product, a tray of splendido soft, melt-in-your-mouth cookies, that go perfect with a double espresso or macchiato. The texture is a cross between an Amaretti Italian biscuit and a marzipan nugget with an abundance of almond flavour, that lingers in your mouth for the next few hours. Paired with a hot coffee, the bites will simply merge perfectly with the rich coffee bean.
The picture does not do justice to how mouth watering the taste is (my photography skills are rather poor). I had kept this in the oven for 13 minutes, but I would recommend keeping them in for slightly longer – 15 to 17 minutes.
Serves Yields: 10 | Prep Time: 30 mins | Cook Time: 16 mins
- ½ cup almond paste OR (½ cup grounded blanched almonds + ½ tsp almond extract + 1 tbsp icing sugar combined well)
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1-2 tbsp flour (as needed)
- pinch of salt (or sea salt)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg white
- few almond flakes for decoration
- Blend the almond paste with the sugar, cocoa powder and salt until well combined.
- Add the egg white and vanilla and blend well.
- Add the flour and blend to create a thicker consistency. The batter will appear slightly runny. You can add some more flour if you don’t want the cookies to be too soft.
- With small spoon, scoop out small cookie balls and place on a greased baking tray.
- Press a few slivered almonds on top.
- Bake for 15-16 minutes in a preheated oven at 180°C. The cookies should rise and crack slightly at the top.
- Remove from the oven, and let cool for 15 minutes within the tray before removing.
- Store in an airtight container.