Well, down jackets have been washed, dried and officially put away for the season – finally! I don’t know if winters feel more brutal every year because they are actually getting colder, snowier and endlessly longer or that I’m finally realizing my destiny is to move back to Miami to sit on a lounge chair under swaying palm fronds and a light coating of perspiration. I said “never again” to the latter, but now that I wrote those words it sounds kind of doable. [Read more…]
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 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.
Serving Size: about 4 servings
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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).
- Stir the sugar, lemon juice, liqueur, salt and lemon verbena leaves if using into the Prosecco.
- 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.
- To make the cookies: Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Serve the peaches in small bowls with the cookies along side or crumbled over.
Amaretti recipe adapted from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich.