The other day I fancied a bakewell tart but couldn’t be bothered to make the pastry – it doesn’t take that long really, I was just feeling exceptionally lazy! After a quick rifle through the baking cupboard I found a bag of ground almonds and decided to make Italian almond cookies. There are so many recipes, all different. Some say to rest the dough overnight, others just put it straight in the oven. You can whisk the egg whites or blitz everything up in the processor. I was feeling a bit bamboozled.
Inspired by David Lebovitz’s Italian almond cookies and Kitchen Sanctuary’s chewy amaretti cookies I made two batches of biscuits using different methods and have come up with a recipe that is minimal fuss and quick to make. David’s recipe gave me the idea of adding jam to the top; he adds apricot jam to the dough but I only had raspberry so I made a cross between an Italian almond cookie and a thumbprint cookie (sorry Italy, I have a weakness for cooked jam).
- 300g ground almonds
- 125g caster sugar
- 125g icing sugar
- 3 egg whites
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Pinch of salt
- 1.5 teaspoons almond essence
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- Raspberry jam
Makes 30 cookies.
How to make Italian almond cookies with jam
Preheat your oven to 150c (fan)/170c/gas mark 3. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.
1. Mix almonds & sugar
Mix the ground almonds and sugar together in a bowl. Once the two ingredients are well combined put the bowl to one side.
2. Whisk the egg whites
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Doing this by hand will take around 5 minutes but an electric whisk is much quicker.
3. Fold in the essence
Measure out the almond and vanilla essence onto a spoon and gently fold it into the egg whites. You can add more if you want a stronger almond flavour.
4. Fold in egg whites to make a dough
Fold the egg whites to the almond and sugar mixture a spoon at a time. You might not need all the egg white; you’re aiming for moist rather than wet dough. When you start mixing you’ll think the quantities are wrong (it’s sooooooo dry) but keep going, it’ll work out.
Stop folding when a ball forms — it will feel firm, airy and sticky.
Scoop a portion of dough off with a teaspoon and gently roll it into a ball, then coat in icing sugar. To avoid dense dough do this with your fingers rather than the palm of your hands. Each ball should be roughly 3cm in diameter.
Lightly press them down onto a tray covered with baking parchment. Then dip your thumb in icing sugar and press it into the centre of each one to make a jam hole.
6. Add jam
Spoon about half a teaspoon of jam into each hole. At this point you can either let them rest on the worktop for 30 mins or just put them in the oven if you’re in a rush.
Bake for 15 minutes or until your biscuits are lightly golden.
8. Leave to cool and dust
Your biscuits will be quite soft when they come out of the oven so leave them on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack. They will firm up as they cool and the flavours will settle.
These cookies are dairy free and gluten free. Chewy on the outside, soft on the inside and very very moreish. I guarantee you won’t be able to eat just one! I asked Scott to describe the cookies and he said “soft, moreish, addictive. I might have one in a minute”. Haha!