Flourless almond cookies: light, chewy and quick to make
They can flavoured or topped with what you have to hand: try your favourite jam or fruit jelly, chocolate or flaked almonds
I often top half the batch of biscuits with chocolate as I can’t resist the combination of chocolate and almonds.
Whenever we make custard, ice-cream or anything else needing just egg yolks, there is a fair chance there will be these beloved thumbprint cookies closely following them.
These cookies were inspired by some Sicilian apricot biscuits I tasted in a little Italian café in London. They were light and chewy in the centre, tangy with apricot and naturally free of gluten. They were so good I had to try to recreate them at home.
Over the years, they have developed into these thumbprint versions. These flourless cookies are a simple combination of egg whites, ground almonds and sugar. They are quick to make and can be flavoured or topped with what you have to hand.
The thumbprint gives you a hollow that can be filled with all manner of good things. A spoonful of apricot jam is my favourite, but try your own favourite jam or fruit jelly. I often top half the batch of biscuits with chocolate as I can’t resist the combination of chocolate and almonds.
Sometimes I leave the biscuits without the thumbprint and scatter flaked almonds over the top (especially if I am adding Amaretto liqueur to the mixture), allowing the amaretti flavour to shine.
At this time of year, I love to add a sprinkling of lavender into the biscuit dough. A little lavender goes a long way, so use it sparingly for a unique perfumed flavour.
A selection of these biscuits topped with apricot, chocolate, lavender and flaked almonds is lovely served as petit fours, for an after-dinner treat. The flavours all complement one another and they are just the right size for a little sweet treat with drinks.
Variation: Instead of thumbprints, simply stir the apricot jam through the almond paste.
175g ground almonds
175g caster sugar
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tbsp Amaretto liqueur)
Icing sugar, for dusting
For the fillings:
50ml apricot jam (or blackcurrant jam)
1 tbsp flaked almonds
1 Preheat your oven to 170 degrees fan and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2 Place the ground almonds and sugar together in a bowl and use a spoon to stir them together.
3 In a spotlessly clean, grease-free mixing bowl, use an electric whisk to beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
4 Add the vanilla extract (or Amaretto liqueur)
5 Next, gently fold the almond and sugar mixture into the egg whites. The mixture will resemble a thick, sticky paste.
6 In order to be able to roll the paste in your hands, dust the palms of your hands liberally with icing sugar, before rolling the paste into even sized balls, approximately three centimetres in diameter (the balls should be smooth, so dust your hands with icing sugar again, if the mixture becomes unmanageably sticky).
7 Place the balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
8 To create apricot thumbprint cookies, gently press each ball to flatten them slightly, then press your thumb into the centre of each disc without allowing the edges to crack. Fill the hollow with a blob of apricot jam (don’t overfill as the jam will expand slightly).
9 For chocolate-filled cookies, create the thumbprint, but fill the thumbprint hollow with melted chocolate after the cookies are baked. For plain cookies, simply press flaked almonds or lavender on to the surface of the uncooked cookies and bake as normal.
10 Bake the cookies in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden in colour and slightly cracked (turn up the heat slightly for last five minutes if not going a golden colour). Once baked, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve them dusted with extra icing sugar.