Tag Archives: tree

Beautiful Almond Blossom and Amaretti Biscuits

18 Jan

You can tell that Spring is just around the corner when the almond trees start blossoming. All of a sudden from nothing and out of nowhere they are everywhere. Beautiful candy floss trees with their barely pink flowers brighten the landscape with hints of pink fairy dust….

 Each tree has its own personality and unique beauty….

Closer up the blossoms are white with fuchsia pink centres and the nut grows underneath it…

With all this inspiration I had to make something with almonds. Something delicate, beautiful & light to match the almond blossoms. These  biscuits are not strictly speaking ” Amaretti ” biscuits they are called Ricciarelli. A deliciously light, moist almondy biscuit from Siena, flavoured with orange zest. The lightness comes from them being made with ground almonds, sugar &  egg white. There is no flour or butter in this recipe…..

Ricciarelli (Almond Biscuits from Siena)

Adapted from  The Travelers Lunchbox  Recipe

Makes about 16, vegetarian

  • 150 gr ground almonds
  • 140 gr caster sugar
  • about 75 gr icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • the zest of  1 orange
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  •  about 1 tsp orange juice

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sieve the ground almonds into a bowl to get rid of any big lumps. Mix in the caster sugar, 50 gr of the icing sugar, the baking powder and orange zest until well combined. Beat the egg white in a clean bowl to soft peaks then stir it into the almond mixture. Mash everything with a wooden spoon, add the almond extract and the orange juice and mix it all together until you have an almondy paste like in this photo below.

Put the remaining icing sugar on a small plate (you may need more). Take out a small amount of the paste and roll it into a ball, in the palm of your hand, about the size of a walnut. Roll it slightly to form an oval (almond) shape and roll it in the icing sugar, flattening it out slightly. Put it on the lined baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the almond paste leaving enough room in between each one for them to spread a little.

Sieve over the rest of the icing sugar and leave at room temperature to dry out for about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C.  Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden. They will still be meltingly soft in the middle. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving and store in an airtight container.

Serve after dinner with coffee or as an afternoon sweet treat..

These are the best almond biscuits I have ever tasted. Moist and chewy in the middle like a marzipan melting moment. They are really easy to make too. Everyone would be really impressed if you were to make these for a dinner party and they would also make lovely gifts. Just remember about the drying time of 2 hours, it may seem like a pain. I can’t stand waiting either, especially for these, but they are definitely worth the wait…..!

Mandarin Drizzle Cake

29 Nov

 

This is a very common site here in Andalucia at the moment. The iconic orange trees laden with ripe fruit are everywhere. We took a right where we normally go straight on, on our walk today and came across a gorgeous lush green valley where these mandarin trees were growing. We followed the steep path down to the river bed where the dog had a drink and we had a rest before the the long walk back uphill…

There was a different microclimate down near the river to what we are used to. A different smell of damp leaves and there was even some diamond-like dew on the leaves. I haven’t seen dew since I left England and was really amazed with the diamonds….

Even the flowers are mandarin coloured its like the whole valley is bathed in lush green with highlights of tangerine..

The mandarins are being given away or, even worse, rotting on the ground. We have a mountain of them in our fruit bowl and although they are sweet and delicious as they are I wanted to try a Nigella recipe I had seen for a clementine cake where you boil the whole fruit and then blitz it up with the rest of the ingredients. This recipe uses 4 or 5 clementines/mandarins and as we have many more I wanted to make a mandarin syrup to drizzle over it so it soaks into the cake to make it really moist….

This cake is made using ground almonds rather than flour which makes it even more moist and gluten free.

Mandarin Drizzle Cake

adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe

  • 4 or 5 mandarins/clementines (about 375gr total weight)
  • 6 eggs
  • 225gr sugar
  • 25o gr ground almonds
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder

For the syrup

  • 110gr caster sugar
  • 110 ml mandarin juice

Put the mandarins in a large saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil and cook over a lowish heat for 2 hours. Keep an eye on them and add more water if necessary. (Don’t do what I did and leave the water to dry out while on the computer and burn the bottom of the pan & the mandarins!!)

Drain and leave to cool slightly then cut in half and remove the pips and any green stem bits on the outside. Put the halved mandarins(peel & everything) into a food processor and blitz. You can then add all the other cake ingredients to the food processor and blitz together. Preheat oven to 190 degrees.

Butter a 21 cm springform cake tin and put a circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake in the preheated oven for an hour. Have a circle of foil ready to cover the top after about 40 minutes to stop it burning. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool for about 10 minutes on a rack.

Meanwhile make your syrup. Put the sugar & mandarin juice in a small saucepan over a low ish heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. Take a cocktail stick or wooden skewer and make lots of holes in the cake that go right to the bottom.

Spoon the syrup, carefully,all over the top of the cake letting it soak in until you have used all of the syrup. When the cake is cold you can remove it from the tin.

This is a deliciously moist cake with an intense mandarin flavour and aroma. Serve, as it is, with coffee or with some ice cream or creme fraiche as a dessert…

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