Sunday, 8 December 2013
Raymond's Recipe CXII - Chocolate and Almond Macaroon Biscuits
Christmas is approaching fast. With just over two weeks to go, I always realise that I am so woefully underprepared, that I just give up and let time take its course. However, I might fail to send an obscure great-aunt-in-law her annual bottle of outrageously pungent perfume that she likes, but I never forget the mince pies or the Christmas puddings.
One of the most important parts of this time of year is the food. I never neglect that. Over the years, I have always tried to outdo Christmas dinner from the year before, but now it's getting silly. If I carry on, I'll end up doing a multi-bird roast where you stuff a quail inside a pigeon inside a mallard inside a pheasant inside a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey, and that's not where I want to go, for I fear that would be my last meal on this mortal coil.
So I'm going for quality over quantity, starting with the sweet snacks. I made these as a trial run (hence the extraordinarily unphotogenic result), but over the next two weeks I will perfect them.
100g plain chocolate, melted
150g blanched almond slices and 50g fresh almonds, coarsely ground
250g caster sugar
Three egg whites
1 tsp vanilla sugar
Butter for greasing
Firstly, turn the oven on fairly low (160°C should do it), then line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper and grease the surface. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over some boiling water and whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
Put the almonds in a blender and once in very small pieces (the fresh almonds will be bigger than the blanched ones - this is good for flavour and texture), put them in a large-ish bowl and add the sugar, vanilla and fold in the egg whites. Be very gentle with the egg whites as you fold them in, because they play a vital role in the final consistency and need to retain some form of fluffiness.
Then add the melted chocolate, slowly folding that in until it looks a thick brownish lumpy custard:
To transfer them to the greaseproof paper, you can do one of two things. Either spoon very small balls the size of a £2/€2 coin leaving a large gap between each, or spread it evenly over the surface of the greaseproof paper and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, depending if you want them soft and tangy or hard and crunchy. You will need to do it twice.
I made one lot batch crunchy and one batch soft. I also broke them into rough bitesize pieces and put them in a biscuit tin.
Next time I'm going to spoon them onto the greaseproof paper and make individual ones.