Tag Archives: ground almonds

Macaroons

With a delightfully soft, chewy textured and a nutty taste, it’s no surprise that macaroons, or ‘macarons’, are all the rage right now. Coffee shops, market traders and retailers have been experimenting with flavour combinations, colours and ingredients; like vibrant green pistachio; dark chocolate made from ground cocao; coconutty concoctions which come in fluffy pink or royal blue made with rosewater and peppermint extract respectively. The list goes on.

Macaroons

Macaroons usually come in two principle forms: the more ‘modern’ sort consist of two small discs sandwiched together with a butter cream filling; whereas the ‘old-style’ macaroons consist of one single flat disc, with no butter cream, studded with a single blanched almond in its centre (pictured above). The latter sort are less common in patisserie windows these days but they are comparatively much easier to cook.

Having said that there is an art to making the perfect macaroon which I found out to my cost on my first attempt. The recipe stated: “finely grind the almonds with the caster sugar before incorporating it into the meringue mixture”. The result? Suffice to say that biting into a piping hot macaroon straight out of the oven was like biting into your sandwich after you’d dropped it on the beach. Note to self: finely grind means finely grind – not just a quick blitz in the food processor. You really have to whizz it round and round until you have an almost air-like consistency. I’m not kidding.

This is just a minor point, however.

So, if you fancy a sweet and tempting antidote to a sugary cupcake then this recipe should go down a treat.

‘Old-style’ almond macaroons recipe

Makes 10 small macaroons

Ingredients

  • 125g/4oz ground almonds
  • 200g/7oz icing sugar
  • 3 free-range egg whites
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

Directions

  • Combine the almonds and icing sugar and finely grind in a food processor. Set aside.
  • Using an electric whisk, slowly whisk the egg whites in a large bowl at a low speed until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed. Slowly whisk in the cream of tartar and caster sugar until the mixture is smooth and glossy, increasing the speed of the whisk as the mixture stiffens.
  • Gently fold in the blended ground almonds and icing sugar.
  • Spoon the macaroon mixture into a piping bag. Pipe 8cm circles onto the baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  • Tap the bottom of the tray to release any air bubbles from the macaroons.
  • Place a single blanched almond in the middle of each macaroon and then set aside for 60 minutes (the macaroon shells are ready to go in the oven when they are no longer sticky to the touch).
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 2½.
  • Bake the macaroons in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Carefully peel away the greaseproof paper and set aside to cool completely.

Apricots

Apricots

I love apricots; not only for eating fresh but also for cooking with. There are just so many ways to bring out their incredible tartness. For instance, poaching them in a sugar syrup and served along side a blob of Chantilly cream; or baked with honey, lemon and ground spices like cardamom or cinnamon to really bring a warming glow.

Apricots sold in the UK are most commonly of Turkish, Cypriot or French origin. We usually enjoy them whole, like any other fruit, or made into cakes, jams or stewed in puddings. Dried apricots are great for snacking or added as part of home-made granola to have at breakfast.

The recipes on this page reflect a distinctly British approach to using this wonderful fruit. You wont find any exotic Moroccan tagine recipes but I think these will make a suitable alternative.

Apricot, almond and sultana scones

A wonderful tea time creation from the Scots traditionally made with flour or oats and leavened with baking powder instead of yeast. I absolutely love scones especially packed with dried fruit as you see here. Queen of baking Mary Berry’s scone recipe is also real treat.

Makes 20 scone triangles

Ingredients

  • 250g flour
  • 150g sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150g butter
  • 250g chopped dried or fresh apricots
  • 150g raisins or sultanas
  • 200g chopped toasted almonds
  • 200ml plain yoghurt or milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Directions

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 230C.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter.

Scones with apricots, raisins and almonds flour, sugar and butter

Cut into it with a knife until no large pieces remain and the mixture is coarse and crumbly (or you can ‘rub in’ the butter and flour with your finger tips to get the same result).

Scones mix

Add the chopped apricots, raisins, ground almonds and yoghurt.

Scones with apricot, raisins and almonds

Once all of the liquid has been added, beat together with a wooden spatula until the dry and wet ingredients are combined.

Scones with apricots, raisins and almonds mixed

On a floured work surface, use your hands to finish combining the ingredients and knead together gently.

Scones mixed onto floured surface

This should form a large ball of dough.

Scones with apricots, raisins and almonds kneaded into dough

Divide the ball of dough in half and shape each half into a round disc, about 3/4″ to 1″ thick, on one of the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of one comes out clean.

Slice into even sized triangles and serve.

Once cool, keep scones in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Scones with apricots, raisins and almonds  baked and portioned

Apricot flapjacks

Apricot flapjacks

Makes 15 slices

Ingredients

  • 110g porridge oats
  • 225g plain wholemeal flour
  • 75g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 150g block butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 350g ready-to-eat dried apricots (or dried dates), chopped

Directions

  • Combine the flour, oats, sugar and cinnamon into a bowl and add the melted butter. Stir thoroughly.
  • Distribute half of the mixture onto the base of a 20cm/26cm/4cm tin.
  • Arrange the filling carefully all over this. Distribute the rest of the mixture evenly over the filling and press this down firmly with your hands or with the back of a spoon.
  • Bake near the centre of the oven (or just above) for about 20–25 minutes until golden brown. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then cut into 15 squares, cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight tin.