Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Amaretti BiscuitsEvery year during Christmas season, I prepare homemade edible hampers for friends and every year, I try to bake different biscuits to include in the package. This year I had a special challenge while preparing this for a friend who went on a ‘gluten and sugar free’ diet. I started searching for recipes but sometimes these healthy snacks are something of an acquired taste because of the alternative ingredients used in them. But eventually, I found a recipe that is utterly delicious, extremely easy to prepare and still very healthy. 

I’ve had a book of Italian recipes for 12 years and always wanted to try the recipe for Amaretti Biscuits in it but never got around to actually doing it. The recipe calls for mere 4 ingredients Eggs, almonds, sugar & vanilla extract. So this is ‘gluten free’ but not exactly ‘sugar free’! A trip to a local health shop solved the other problem when I found ‘Xylitol’ a natural sugar substitute. Diabetes is in my family for last two generations so these days I’m keen on educating myself about the possible sugar substitutes. From what I know so far, Xylitol is completely natural and doesn’t seem to have any adverse side effects if consumed in small portions.

The biscuits were such a huge success, that I’m totally addicted to baking them now. When I bake them I use sugar but it’s nice to know that I can bake them using Xylitol for my diabetic mother.

Ingredients:

  • Ground almonds 200 gms.
  • Caster sugar OR sugar substitute 225 gms
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps Amaretto liquor (optional)
  • Butter for greasing
  1. Preheat oven at160 C. Place a baking sheet on a baking tray and grease it lightly with some butter. Mix half of the sugar in the ground almonds and reserve. Beat egg whites till they form soft peaks.
  2. Now slowly add the remaining sugar, a little at a time in the mixture and continue beating until all the sugar is incorporated and the mixture forms stiff peaks.
  3. Now fold in the almond mixture into the egg mixture until well incorporated. Mix in vanilla extract and Amaretto liquor if using. Fill the mixture into a piping bag and pipe-in small dollar size shapes on the baking sheet. Keep them spread apart as the cookies will expand while baking.
  4. Bake for 15-18 mins or until they are pink in colour. After taking them out of the oven, let the cookies cool for 2-3 mins on the tray. Then place them on a cooling rack till they cool down completely. When the biscuits are completely cold, place them in an airtight container before storing. 

Read Full Post »

Crescent CookiesSome time ago, at a dinner party, a friend of ours brought these beautiful, dainty, crescent shaped traditional Slovakian cookies which caught my eye. The taste and texture was even better; nutty, crispy and sweet. When I asked Valeria about them, she graciously gave me the recipe for these walnut cookies that are called ‘Orechove Rohlicky’. I obviously didn’t have the moulds that give these cookies the neat crescent shape so I kept thinking about what else I can use to shape them but somehow never got around to actually baking them. In the meantime, our friend went to Slovakia for her holidays & when she retuned, she had a wonderful gift for me…those beautiful crescent shaped moulds! Whenever someone gives a gift that is so appropriate, the joy of giving and receiving these gifts is really five fold!Crescent Moulds

As soon as I got these moulds, I was eager to use them. The recipe called for ground walnuts (I’m told that ‘Orechove’ means Walnuts in Slovak) but since I had ground Almonds at home, I decided to use them instead of walnuts. The result was quite successful and now I make them with either walnuts or almonds.

Ingredients:

Ground Walnuts / Almonds -120 gm

Cold Butter cut into cubes – 120 gm

Icing sugar – 250 gm

Flour – 100 gm

Baking Powder – ½ tsp

Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp

Chocolate – 100 gm

250gm sugar makes these cookies a little too sweet so you can reduce the sugar a little if you like. However the sugar in these cookies also helps them bind together so reducing it too much might result in very brittle cookies.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler.

  1. Just like with a short crust pastry, mix together ground almonds, butter, sugar, vanilla extract and flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. My friend told me to make sure not to over-work the mixture and to keep the butter as cold as possible while mixing. Since my hands are always warm, the butter melts quite quickly so I decided to use the food processor. This made my job even easier, just put all the ingredients in the food processor, mixed them until they looked like breadcrumbs.Crescent cookies
  2. Pack the mixture loosely into the moulds and bake at 180 degree Celsius for about 8-10 mins or until lightly browned. Voila…the cookies are ready! If you break the cookie after they cool down, you’ll see that they are hollow from inside which makes them quite light.
  3. To cover them in chocolate, melt some chocolate in a bain-marie and then dip half part of the cookie in chocolate and then place the cookie on a grease proof sheet, on a tray. Keep the tray in a cool place until the chocolate sets.

The recipe is so simple that these are ideal to bake with children. The last time when we prepared them, I let my five year old do most of the work and that made them even more special!

Orechove Rohlicky may be the traditional name for these crescent cookies but we simply call them Valeria’s cookies, which brought a little bit of Slovakian cuisine into our Indian household.

 

Read Full Post »