I intended to go to the Food Bloggers’ picnic in Melbourne today, but just couldn’t drag myself out of bed again today. And then I spent the day alternating between lurching, zombie-like around the house, and feverishly baking because I wanted to use all those exciting new spice mixes from yesterday! Apparently, I can be awake and alert while cooking even if the rest of me is completely absent. Oh, and I did manage to do some music theory worksheets, but I kept on zoning out and writing everything in seven sharps or seven flats, for reasons that are still not clear to me. Possibly, I just like writing sharps and flats on things. So that wasn’t very productive. And now the house is full of spiced biscuits and spiced chocolate bread and vanilla sugar meringues and nobody to help us eat them. It’s a hard life…
But! I did have this brilliant idea about Christmas presents for everyone this year, so all is not lost! This is definitely a case of buying people a present I would like to receive myself, but I think it would be fun to give people one or two really interesting spice or herb blends, along with a recipe card for something gorgeous to make with said spices or herbs. There are probably people I know who wouldn’t want anything of the sort, but I suspect I can get through a lot of my list in this fashion.
So the recipe that follows probably isn’t going to be of much use to anyone who doesn’t have access to the pistachio and cardamom sugar from Gewürzhaus… though, of course, you could make it with ordinary sugar and a teaspoon or so of cardamom, and get some of the idea. It’s pretty lovely like this, though.
Your Shopping List125 g butter, softened 50 g pistachio and cardamom sugar, or 25 g icing sugar + a teaspoon of cardamom 25 g icing sugar, plus more for dusting 1 egg yolk 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp orange flower water 150 g plain flour 150 g ground almonds (I used the coarsely ground ones which still have some of the skins in them – very untraditional, but nice) 1 tsp baking powder
Now what will you do with it?
Preheat the oven to 160°C, and line 1-2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
Cream the butter with the sugars, then stir in the egg yolk (keep the white for making meringues), vanilla and orange flower water.
Mix in the flour, almonds and baking powder – I find it easiest to use my hands for this – until you have a soft dough.
Take small balls of the mixture (about the diameter of the circle you get when you touch your forefinger to your thumb) and roll them into a sausage shape. Curve them around into crescent moons and place on the baking sheet.
Bake for 15-18 minutes until just golden. Let them cool for five minutes on the baking sheet – they are incredibly soft and fragile at this point – and then dust with extra icing sugar. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool. Toss with more icing sugar.
Rosewater would probably be nice instead of orange flower water, though less subtle. You really should make meringues with that egg white – beat until frothy, then add a pinch of cream of tartar and beat until you have stiff peaks. Gradually beat in 60g of sugar (or, better still, any flavoured sugar you have on hand), until the mixture is glossy and holds its shape. Pipe onto a baking sheet covered with baking paper, and bake at 120°C for an hour. Ideally, let the meringues cool completely in the oven – they will dry out better that way.
Right, back to variations. I don’t think you can make this nut free, but you can certainly replace the butter with nuttelex. In terms of egg substitutes, this would be a good recipe to use the flax seed egg approach (blending 1 tbsp ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons hot water and beating until you get a thick, egg-like consistency. I’d use half a flax seed egg for this recipe, though I must admit, I haven’t yet tried using flax seed this way). This recipe might also be nice using other ground nuts, such as walnuts or hazelnuts.