Archives for posts with tag: almond meal

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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. I wish I could actually give you all one of these cookies, they are delicious! I first saw the recipe the other week in the December (Christmas) issue of the BBC Good Food Magazine, which is the current issue here in Australia (we are always a few months behind in getting them). I always find new recipes I want to try in this magazine and I have just this week subscribed to the digital version of the magazine, so from now on I won’t have to wait months for the magazine to arrive in Australia.

The magazine included a section on Christmas baking traditions from around the world, including the German Christmas cookie the Zimtsterne. As soon as I read the recipe I knew I had to make the cookies, but I couldn’t wait for Christmas 2014! So instead I decided to use the recipe to make some heart shaped cookies for Valentine’s Day.

The flavours are amazing. The ginger, cinnamon and lemon go so well together and the biscuit has a lovely nutty, spicy flavour without being overpowering, with the lemon providing some freshness. These are a chewy cookie, with the outside developing a delicate macaron like crispness and that are completely different to gingerbread biscuits. I certainly plan to make them for Christmas every year from now on! They also have the added bonus of being gluten free so they make a great alternative to gingerbread for anyone who can’t eat gluten. I shared the biscuits around at work and I think it was one of the most positive responses I’ve ever had. They were very popular. So if you are looking for a different cookie recipe to try, or maybe something different for next Christmas, I recommend giving these a go.

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Cinnamon, ginger and lemon cookies (Zimtsterne)

Makes around 30 stars if you use a 5cm star cutter, approximately 18 hearts with a slightly larger heart shaped cutter

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites (I always use large/59g eggs)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 200g pure icing sugar – sifted plus extra for dusting
  • 250g almond meal/ground almonds
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 130C fan forced (150C). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2. Place the two egg whites in a large clean bowl (not plastic) or the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk (using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand whisk) until it becomes foamy. Add the lemon juice at this stage and then whisk until the egg whites form soft peaks.

3. Once the egg whites have formed soft peaks, start adding the icing sugar in a spoon at a time until all the icing sugar has been added and the mixture is shiny and stiff.

4. Remove ¼ of the egg white/icing sugar mixture and keep in a separate bowl to use as the topping.

5. Add the almond meal, lemon zest, cinnamon and ginger to the rest of the egg white/icing sugar mix and mix to form a dough. It will be quite sticky.

6. The dough is best rolled out between baking paper as it is sticky. Place a sheet of baking paper on the bench. Dust a small amount of icing sugar onto the paper and place the dough on top of the paper. Dust the top of the dough lightly with icing sugar and then place another sheet of baking paper on top.dough

7. Roll out the dough to approximately 0.5cm in thickness. Peel off the top sheet of baking paper  and cut out to the shape of your choice and place on the baking tray. Repeat until you have used all the dough.ready to ice

8. Before baking, spread a small amount of the remaining egg white/icing sugar mix over the top of each cookie (either using the back of a small spoon or I used a small offset spatula). You may need to add a few drops of water to thin it out slightly if it is too stiff.

They got a bit neater with practice!

They got a bit neater with practice!

9. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes for the smaller stars. My cookies were a bit larger and took 15-20 minutes. You want to bake them until the icing on top has set but isn’t browning. Allow them to cool fully before storing in a sealed container. They will last for up to 2 weeks.

Adapted from BBC Good Food Magazine December 2013- Zimtsterne

Spiced hearts

Whisper cake 1

It is definitely summer here in Perth. We have recently experienced quite a few days above 40 degrees (celcius) and a lot of days in the high 30s. That isn’t the best weather to encourage baking and as a result the oven has been getting a bit of a rest.

One of the few things I have baked recently is this whisper cake. After the holiday period, I was looking for a treat that was a bit lighter and I found this recipe in the Australian Healthy Food Guide magazine. I’ve made it twice, once as a full sized ring cake, and once in my 12 cup mini bundt pan (which I’ve had for ages and had never used until now). The result both times was a delicious and moist cake. The flavours remind me of my favourite citrus (and coconut) cupcakes with raspberry frosting, but with a lot less fat/calories. This recipe is going into the favourites list! It is a very easy recipe, great for picnics and a lot easier to make in this heat than pastry from scratch, which was the other thing I baked recently for a picnic (mini quiches).

Whisper cake 2

Click here for the recipe

I know breakfast is important, but I struggle to eat first thing in the morning. It takes me a bit of time to wake up enough to want to eat. So I usually eat my breakfast at work. A few years ago, this meant picking up a muffin from the bakery on my way to work. Not really the best start to the day. These days I’m a lot more organised (and making an effort to be healthier), and will take in fruit, cereal or home-made (and healthier) muffins for my breakfast.

A few years ago, I discovered the TV show Cook Yourself Thin. Two series of this show were filmed in the UK, with a different format each season. The general concept remained the same between the two series. Each episode focused on a person with weight issues and looked at their three (I think it was three) “downfall dishes”. Healthier, lower calorie dishes similar to the original were created as an alternative that could be cooked at home. I loved this show and I think it influenced what I try to do now, that is finding healthier alternatives to my favourites rather than cutting them out completely.  More recently the Hairy Bikers have done this with their book and TV series The Hairy Dieters, and I’ll cook something from their book soon (I of course bought the book as soon as I heard about it). I’m sure there are others out there as well that I haven’t discovered yet. If you know of any books or TV shows of a similar theme, please let me know.

But back to Cook Yourself Thin. These Lemon, Berry and Poppyseed muffins were the first recipe I tried from the series and I’ve made them several times since. They have quite a few replacement ingredients in them. The rice flour and almond meal make them gluten free (if you use gluten free baking powder). Courgette is used in place of butter or oil for moisture (you can’t taste it, I promise) and buttermilk is used in place of milk. I actually had some whey in the fridge from the cheese course I attended and I tried that instead of butter milk. The result was great (I think it actually made them lighter than usual) so I will be using that again next time I have some in the house. I like to wrap them individually once cooled and then freeze most of them. That way, I always have some in the freezer in case I need to grab something on my way to work. Once I get to work, I warm it in the microwave (removing the foil cases first if I’ve used them) and that is a quick breakfast or snack sorted.

Click here for the recipe

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