Why not take the biscuits?
Published at 19:27, Thursday, 04 December 2008
ONE of the most popular questions that we are asked is whether, when eating out or invited to friends, we are fussy eaters. By that, we mean do we criticise other people’s cooking?
The answer is twofold. When eating out we judge each restaurant based on its intended market. If we were having breakfast in a greasy spoon then we’d just be looking for a decent fry-up served with a smile, but if we were going to somewhere with a Michelin star then we’d expect considerably more from the food and the service.
Eating at friends’ is very different. The fact that somebody has gone to the time and trouble to put food on a plate for us is the ultimate compliment. People scarcely believe that we like to eat normal food just like everybody else.
Suffice to say we have never had a bad meal at a friend’s house and we are the easiest audience to please because it means that we are having a night off.
So it came to pass that we were invited for dinner (yes, it happens!). The dilemma for us was what to take as a gift as the host is somewhat of a wine expert. Well, we did take a bottle on the advice of our new-found wine shop owner (Shill’s, in Cockermouth) but we thought it would be fitting to take a homemade gift too and did so in the form of the following biscuits.
Add some fancy wrapping and you can steal these recipes as a tasty little Christmas gift idea.
Chewy almond biscuits
(makes around 30)
250g ground almonds
300g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1-2 egg whites
1 tsp honey
Zest of one lemon
Heat the oven to 140 degrees.
Combine the almonds, icing sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl. Lightly froth one egg white then add to the almond mixture with the honey. Mix with your hands to combine well. If the mixture refuses to come together after coaxing add a little more egg white and that should do the trick.
Roll the mix into a log about 4cm in diameter and cut into discs around 1½cm thick.
Put them onto a tray lined with parchment paper and bake for around 10 minutes (you may need to turn the oven down a little if they begin to brown too much).
Allow to cool then give them a liberal dusting of icing sugar.
Chocolate and cherry biscotti
(makes around 25)
100g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
125g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
50g almonds, roughly chopped
75g dark chocolate, chopped
75g dried sour cherries
Heat the oven to 170 degrees.
Whisk the egg and sugar together in a large bowl until the mixture falls from the whisk in ribbon like trails.
Mix in the vanilla then fold in the flour, baking powder and salt.
Fold in the almonds, chocolate and cherries.
The mixture will be very tacky so with wet hands (which will make it much easier to handle) form it into a log shape around 25cm long, 5cm wide and 4cm tall.
Place this onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for around 20 minutes until it is light brown in colour.
Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for five minutes, in which time the biscotti log will harden slightly.
Cut the log into 1cm individual pieces on a diagonal slant to give finger-like biscuits.
Return these to the baking tray and cook again for another 10 to 15 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time. You want the biscuits to have a solid crunchy texture as the intention is to dunk them into coffee or a good dessert wine after dinner.
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk