Tuesday, April 21, 2020


March 28, 2020

One of the terrific little surprises in my Lab Farewell Cookbook was that the compilers tracked down my friend and mentor Louisa for a recipe. Louisa and I were officemates over a decade ago, and we're still in touch even though neither of us has been employed in that office for years.

Louisa knows my tastes well, and shared a simple cookie recipe that's gluten-free and includes a vegan option. Louisa explained that Almendrados are a traditional Jewish recipe eaten during the Passover week. They're are made mostly from almonds and sugar, bound together with an egg (or potentially tofu!) and flavoured with lemon.

My one early COVID-lockdown panic-buy was a big bag of raw almonds, so I blanched some of them myself to make these cookies. (It's easy to do, but a bit tedious to pinch the skins off 2 cups of soggy almonds.) Since they don't contain any baking powder, these cookies don't puff up or spread at all during baking: whatever shape you form the dough in is roughly how they'll look.

They're crackly with sugar on the outside, tender in the centre, with a meringue-level sweetness but an almond-based chewiness. I found that the (not so Spanish!) lemon myrtle popped up in some mouthfuls more than others. These have been just the right little treat to nibble mid-afternoon, with a cup of tea, as we've been working from home.

(a recipe shared by Louisa in the Lab Farewell Cookbook)

2 cups blanched almonds, plus ~30 extra to decorate
1 cup sugar
1 egg or 1/4 cup silken tofu
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon ground lemon myrtle

In a food processor, thoroughly grind the 2 cups of blanched almonds to a coarse powder. Add 3/4 cup sugar, egg/tofu, lemon zest and lemon myrtle, and pulse until a dough is formed. Cover the dough in a bowl and refrigerate it for at least 12 hours.

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray or two with paper.

Line up the dough bowl, a smaller bowl with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and the lined trays. Take scant tablespoons of the dough, roll them into balls with your hands, and roll the balls in the sugar. Place the dough balls on the baking tray and press a whole almond into the top of each one.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to go golden and are still soft on the inside.

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