Monday, March 23, 2015

Flourless Almond Cookies and the Science of Deduction

Let's play a game.
Let's play murder.

?! I'm sorry, did I say murder? I meant to say cookies! Yes, cookies.
Imagine you have a list of ingredients for these absolutely brilliant cookies, but without specifications of quantities or method to make them. What would you do?

"Egg whites, sugar, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts." Their consistency is far from meringue, more like... macaroons! But more flaky than macaroons, much more flaky, and also quite soft. Put more ground nuts than the usual macaroon recipe and more sugar in the batter!

Batch 1 results: Batter too soft to handle with hands, cookies come out too dry with a consistency of a nutty meringue... not good. More nuts next time.
Batch 2 results: Still too dry, not good. Not good at all. What next? More almonds? more sugar?? Maybe there's something else that's not listed in the ingredients?? why aren't they soft?!

Narrow it down!
Whites, sugar, nuts...

Narrow - It - Down!
Whites, sugar, nuts... What am I missing?

Look at these cookies! Rough grain inside and easily visible on the surface... Covered with flaked almonds. Entirely.
Entirely covered with flaked almonds! bottom too! I hadn't observed that before. Who would go the lengths of covering it entirely with flaked almonds when the batter is so soft?! too soft to handle or roll in your hands? That would be a nightma... Oooh! That's because it isn't! It is not supposed to be soft at all.

Which suggests?
... I need to add more ground nuts, loads, loads more.


Off topic: or rather, sort of on topic - do yourselves a favor and go watch the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in the BBC's Sherlock, this show is utterly brilliant!
And while you are at it, go do yourselves an even bigger favor and read the books!

These cookies have no flour in them, whatsoever. They are just perfect for Passover!

Flourless Almond Cookies

makes about 30 cookies

2 egg whites
200g granulated sugar
70g walnuts
70g hazelnuts
140g almond meal*
zest of 1/2 a lemon
about 1/2 a cup of flaked almonds

Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer. As white foam starts to form, gradually add in 50g of sugar. Whisk until firm peaks form, that is the peaks are firm but the very tip folds back on itself when you turn the whisk upside down.

Grind the walnuts and hazelnuts in a food processor. Add the almond meal, lemon zest and remaining 150g of sugar and stir till the mixture is fairly uniform. Fold in the egg whites. The mixture will become a sticky dough at this point.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Make cookies using a teaspoon or a cookie scoop (mine says it holds 1 tablespoon, but I don't believe it) and roll each cookie in flaked almonds. Bake for about 13 minutes, until they just barely start to golden.

*Finely ground almonds - "almond flour"

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Zucchini, Potato and Marjoram Fritters with Sour Cream Dip

That's it ! I now officially have an M.Sc. in Physics! Awesome! This means I'll finally have more time to write posts ;)

But enough about me. The holiday of everything-that-is-fried is upon us and I am already fed up with Sufganiyot ( berliners / bomboloni / jelly filled doughnuts, match the name to wherever you are from ). I don't want to see another one of those for at least a year!

So instead of a laborious Sufganiyot recipe, I present to you my favorite fritters recipe! Or latkes, if you like to call them that... I don't, it sounds like something that is made out of plastic.

I find that the texture of these fritters is so much better when the potatoes are grated to a fine mash but the zucchini is grated to tiny sticks. You can grate everything into a mash if you really don't feel like working (but, come on, don't be lazy!!).

Happy Hanukkah / Christmas everyone !!

Zucchini and Potato fritters with Marjoram

25-30 tablespoon sized fritters

1 large zucchini (~170g)
2 medium potatoes (~450g), the waxy kind 
6 leafy stems of marjoram (each about 9 cm long)
3 garlic gloves
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp flour
oil for frying

for the dip:
200g sour cream
a little more than a 1/4 tsp of yellow curry
1/4 tsp ginger powder
a little chopped dill for garnish.

Peel the potatoes and grate them to a fine mash in a large bowl. Grate the zucchini to small sticks. Strip the marjoram leaves from the stem - hold the end of the stem in one hand and pull with the other down the stem so that you are going against the direction in which the leaves are growing. They come right off this way, add them into the bowl. Crush in the garlic, add the egg, flour and finally salt and pepper to taste. Stir till the batter is uniform.

Heat a large pan with a layer of about 1/2 cm oil on medium heat. Drop the batter into the hot oil by spoonfuls, frying until they are golden - light brown on either side. When you put the batter in, the oil should bubble gently. If it's bubbling violently it is too hot and you need to reduce the heat. Drain excess oil on paper towels.

Sour Cream Dip:
mix the ingredients for the dip together and garnish with some chopped dill.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Date Truffles

I dedicate this post to Alessandra Mastrobuono-Battisti. I told you I would give you this recipe months ago and forgot about it. Apparently, so did you ;)

I am walking down the aisles of the supermarket until I get to the new organic section. Products I've never seen before, arranged in neat boxes, waiting for me to notice them. Everything is so nicely packed, I want to try everything!!!
Espacially this round transparent box with what looks like date and cranberry treats... Yummm

I look at the box. I look at the ingredients label. Yep, there are dates and cranberries in it... and some other stuff, not sure what excatly... There are about 16 of them in the box and the price is not very representitive of the quantity...

Screw this! I'm making my own date treats! And they are going to ROCK !!

They are really delicious!! Try not to eat them all in one sitting.
There's no sugar in this recipe. No need, the dates are sweet enough.

Date Truffles

makes about 40 truffles (3cm in diameter)

350g seedless medjool dates (the moist ones), about 370g with seeds
160g Petit Beurre crackers
70g walnuts
80g dried cranberries
100g unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp cacao powder
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp dark rum

Coconut flakes to cover

In a food processor, process the dates into a moist mass. Transfer the dates into a large bowl, and process the crackers. Don't over process if you like things chunky. Transfer to the bowl holding the dates and repeat the process for the walnuts and cranberries (again, not too much if you'd like them to be chunky). Add the cacao powder and mix everything together.

In a separate bowl, mix the melted butter, milk and rum. Add the liquids to the date mixture  and work them into it, I find it easier to do so using your fingers rather than a spoon. Let it cool in the fridge for about half an hour, this makes the mixture easier to round up into balls.

Make balls about 3cm in diameter and roll them in the coconut flakes.
Keep in an air-tight container in the fridge.
You can also freeze them for times to come. They keep really well for at least a month.

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