rustic apricot almond cookies


Even on my best, most motivated baking days, chances are good you won’t find me rolling dough, cutting out and decorating cookies. It’s just not my thing.

That’s probably the reason biscotti are my absolute favorite cookies to make around the holidays – they don’t ask for much in terms of labor or fuss and they happen to pack very nicely into cellophane bags for gifting and sharing.

I’ve shared my classic biscotti recipes here in seasons past – the best dark chocolate biscotti and a classic lemon biscotti with pine nuts.

[Read more...]

Peaches Poached in Prosecco with Homemade Amaretti

Peaches Poached in Prosecco

I had an image of a classic, sparkling Bellini in my head while I was deciding what to do with some late summer fruit; and then I went from cocktail thoughts to the idea of sweet, chilled peaches in syrup, which made me want a crunchy little something to go with it, which led me to the oven to make some amaretti cookies. If you give a mouse a glass of Prosecco…

Poaching a peach softens its texture a bit, so it’s a good idea to use fruits that aren’t fully tree-ripened and ready to eat (if you’re lucky enough to get some of those), but not rock-hard, which is the way you’ll find most peaches when you bring them home from the cold-storage chill of the grocery store.  Getting the fruit a day in advance and leaving them out at room temperature overnight seems to do the trick.

These amaretti cookies are a lot like macaroons in texture – I prefer to very slightly underbake them to get a crunchy exterior and a chewy inside. The recipe makes more cookies than you’ll probably need for dipping into the peachy syrup, but they keep for weeks in an airtight container. They would be delicious crumbled over chocolate gelato or ice cream and a little whipped cream.

Homemade Amaretti Cookies

Peaches Poached in Prosecco with Homemade Amaretti

Serving Size: about 4 servings

Ingredients

4 peaches (freestone)

1 bottle Prosecco or dry sparkling wine

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon peach flavored liqueur

Pinch sea salt

Lemon verbena leaves, optional

For the amaretti cookies:

1 2/3 cups blanched slivered almonds, lightly toasted and cooled

2 cups powdered sugar

4 egg whites

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon Amaretto (or add another teaspoon almond extract)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Score an X on the bottom of each peach with a small sharp knife. Drop the peaches into a 3 -or 4 -quart saucepan of boiling water and simmer 5 minutes. Drain them and let cool for a few minutes before slipping off the skins. Slice the peaches into halves and remove the pits.
  2. Pour 3 cups Prosecco into the same saucepan. If the Prosecco is nice and cold, pour the remaining ½ cup into a glass and take a sip. If for some reason you’re not indulging in the bubbly, just pour the whole bottle into the pan (sadly).
  3. Stir the sugar, lemon juice, liqueur, salt and lemon verbena leaves if using into the Prosecco.
  4. Bring to a simmer and gently drop the peaches into the pan. Simmer the peaches until just tender when you poke them with a toothpick but not mushy, 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to chill at least 4 hours. Discard the lemon verbena leaves.
  5. To make the cookies: Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Grind the almonds with the powdered sugar in a food processor until finely ground, being careful not to grind too much or you’ll make almond paste.
  7. Whip the egg whites in a standing mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Add the extract and amaretto; with the mixer running gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until the egg whites are very stiff and fluffy.
  8. Pour the almond mixture over the egg whites and gently fold with a spatula until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Scoop the batter into tablespoon-sized mounds 1-inch apart on the baking sheets (I like to use this stainless steel cookie scoop).
  9. Bake 12 – 15 minutes for a lightly golden cookie with a soft and chewy interior. Rotate the pans from front to back  and top to bottom halfway through baking so they bake evenly. Cool the cookies completely.
  10. Serve the peaches in small bowls with the cookies along side or crumbled over.

Notes

Amaretti recipe adapted from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich.

http://familystylefood.com/2012/09/peaches-poached-in-prosecco-with-homemade-amaretti/

Buttermilk Almond Muffins & Meyer Lemon Curd

Buttermilk almond muffinsOver the last few years, Meyer lemons seem to be creeping into the mainstream. A cross between lemon and orange, Meyer lemons are smaller, have less acid and more sweet juiciness than common Eureka or Lisbon lemons.

I heard Alice Waters sing their praises about 10 years ago when I lived in Minneapolis, while giving a talk at a food event I attended. Because she’s Alice Waters and she could, she’d brought along a crate full of fresh, boutique-farmed California produce to display for show-and-tell.

In the middle of the big, beautiful pile of vegetables and fruits I figured I’d never, ever find in any Midwestern grocery store or produce stand was a little basket of lemons, colored an intense shade of egg-yolk orange.

Their skin was silky smooth and they had a sweet perfume I could smell from 3 feet away. One sniff of those lemons and I immediately longed to be transported to a climate where they grew.

That was a decade ago; I don’t think there was much commercial distribution of Meyer lemons; pretty much the only way you could find them was in someone’s backyard in California.

The season for Meyer lemons is relatively brief – unlike common lemons you can find any old day of the week, they appear in the market roughly between early winter and early spring.

Because they seem so scarce and rare, whenever I see them I usually buy more than I can use before they start to rot. Their skins are much more tender than the usual lemon, so they don’t last as long in the crisper drawer.

One way to preserve them is to make a buttery curd using the zest and juice.

meyer lemon curd

And a nice way to use up lemon curd (rather than tucking into it with a spoon), is baked into a topping for these tangy buttermilk muffins.

Buttermilk almond muffins

Buttermilk Almond Muffins & Meyer Lemon Curd

Yield: 1 dozen

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Freshly grated zest of 2 Meyer or regular lemons

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

3/4 cup Meyer lemon curd -recipe follows (yes, you can use prepared lemon curd instead)

3/4 cup sliced, toasted almonds

For Meyer lemon curd:

3 Meyer lemons

3/4 cup sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a muffin tin or line with cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl lightly beat the eggs, buttermilk, butter, zest and almond extract; pour over the flour mixture and stir until just blended.
  3. Divide the batter into the muffin pan cups. Top each cup with 1 teaspoon each of the lemon curd and the almonds.
  4. Bake 15 - 20 minutes, or until tops are just turning golden and are firm to the touch.Cool the muffins for 10 minutes before turning out and serving.
  5. To make the lemon curd, zest the lemons with a grater, then cut them in half and squeeze the juice into a small, heavy saucepan. Add the zest and stir in the sugar to dissolve.
  6. Add the eggs and butter and place the pan over medium heat. Use a small heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to constantly stir the mixture until it begins to thicken around the edges of the pan.
  7. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pan and lower the heat a bit as you continue to stir. At this point it should form a curd pretty quickly, within a minute or two. Once it reaches a pourable pudding-like consistency, remove the pan from the heat.
  8. Strain the curd into a bowl, cover and chill at least 2 hours before using.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/03/buttermilk-almond-muffins-meyer-lemon-curd/