Tag Archives: Almonds

Clementine Cake

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Last weekend Christoph and I spent our Saturday night in, which is usually how we spend our Saturday nights anyway. We get up to a lot during the week so we’re usually pretty tired by the end of it. Plus, we’re lazy and it’s winter here in Toronto. As usual we tried to find something good on Netflix and this time it was The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Usually, I’m not much for Ben Stiller movies since most of them tend to be goofy comedies. Not saying that I lack a sense of humour but I’m more into the dark comedy types. If you’ve seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty then you’ll know for the most part that the movie isn’t a typical Ben Stiller flick but instead has a lot of great shots and scenes as well as a pretty great story. You’ll also know that this clementine cake plays an important role in the movie.

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Ever since I was a child I found that food within movies or stories has always stuck with me. Even if I can’t remember a plot of a movie I always remember the food. As in the chocolate cake from Matilda, a bavarian cream cookie from Stranger Than Fiction, or even the donuts with goose livers from Fantastic Mr. Fox. Yes, I’ve thought about eating donuts with goose livers.

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But back to the cake. This recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake which is made from whole clementines and almond flour. It’s naturally gluten free and oil free. To be honest the cake wasn’t exactly what I was looking for and doesn’t exactly match the cake seen in the movie but it’s definitely close. It’s extremely simple to make, has a lovely damp texture, and a very interesting slightly bitter note from the clementine skins. It also gets better the longer you keep it.

Clementine Cake (gluten free, oil free)
Recipe found here

Clementine Icing
Makes enough icing for one cake

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 TBSP fresh clementine juice
pinch of salt

Mix ingredients together until smooth and quite thick. Smooth on top of the cooled cake and gently push over the sides.

Candied Clementines

1 medium clementine
3 TBSP caster sugar
1 TBSP water

Slice the clementine into thin slices and lay flat in a medium sized pan. Sprinkle over the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes or until the sugar and water has thickened. Take off the heat and let cool.

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Fixing things with Pain D’amande

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The past week has NOT been filled with many successes. Last Sunday I had planned to make soft pretzels with my boyfriend Christoph but instead it ended up being a boring day and we literally just sat for hours trying to think of what to do. We sat for so long that I almost started to cry, I was so bored out of my mind and couldn’t think of one single fun or productive thing to do. We wanted to go out for dinner but all the restaurants and shops we wanted to go to were closed (why must everything close so early on Sundays?!). So, we got hot dogs from a street vendor for dinner instead.

Just yesterday I decided to bake three different recipes and I’m not really sure what came over me that day. First, I started with a loaf of the famous no knead bread. I had made it a few times before with great results until this time I tried the recipe with all bread flour. The bread flour I bought actually ended up being whole wheat bread flour and not thinking anything of it I used it for the whole recipe. What a disaster! The bread smelled horrible, tasted horrible, and I ended up stabbing it with my fork. Yes, I was mad and again I almost started to cry.

Next up was a batch of sticky pecan bites, a recipe by Alice Medrich. These were good however, not great. That was probably due to my lack of interest after the bread disaster and also because I’m not a big fan of cinnamon. I guess I was drawn to the recipe just because of how adorable they look. So, this one wasn’t actually a failure and I didn’t almost start to cry but what I made after would make up for all the rest.

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Pain d’amande cookies are not the sort of thing you expect to make you happy. Usually when I’m down, all I want is a big, fat, chewy, chocolate chip cookie or anything fatty, really. These pain d’amande are thin, light, crisp, buttery, and nutty wafers that are surprisingly delicious. I had wanted to try this recipe for a while but never had the right ingredients as the recipe calls for Hawaiian washed raw sugar. I actually didn’t have the right sugar still but I wanted to make them for my grandmother’s birthday since she loves anything with almonds. I’m glad I did because these are exactly the sort of thing you want around, to keep nibbling on long after you’re full, and to make up for all those things that can bring you down.

Pain D’amande

Adapted very slightly from Flo Braker’s Recipe from Sweet Miniatures
Makes about 70 – 90 thin almond cookies

1 stick (115g) of salted butter
1 1/3 cups (300g) of coarse raw sugar
1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup (85g) of water
2 1/3 cups (325g) of all purpose flour
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1 cup (85g) of sliced almonds
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling (optional but I highly recommend it)

In a medium sized heavy bottomed pot combine the butter, cinnamon, and water. Heat on medium until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the coarse sugar. Add the flour, baking soda, and sliced almonds and stir until all is moistened and just until combined.

Line a 9 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap and press the dough into the pan until the top is flat. Chill in the freezer for about an hour or until the dough is firm.

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Remove dough from the pan and unwrap. Using a very sharp knife, slice the dough cross wise into very thin slices (about 1-2mm or the thickness of a coin). Lay out onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, at least 1 cm apart. Sprinkle each sheet of cookies with a pinch of coarse sea salt. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, remove, flip each cookie over, and return to oven for another 10 – 15 minutes or until they are golden on the tops and bottoms. Let cool for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool to room temperature.

Store cookies in an airtight container.

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Ricciarelli, a cure for flu season

I  hate autumn. No let me rephrase that, I hate the flus, colds, and illnesses that come with autumn. Always around this time of year, particularly November, I seem to get sick. No amount of preventative measures, no hand sanitizer, no flu shot, no washing my hands until they crack and bleed seems to ward off the inevitable. Now, being sick in bed at home isn’t all that bad when you’re a kid. Actually, I’m sure everyone has feigned illness once or twice just to get out of school. However, being sick as an “adult” is another matter. The word “adult” actually means “responsibilities” and no amount of sickness will make those responsibilities disappear or seem less important. Not saying that I have a lot of responsibilities or anything but it sure isn’t as fun being sick now that I’m all grown up, now that I’m all grown up and can’t just call in sick whenever I don’t feel like going to work. Even if I really am sick…cough, cough.

So, what would I rather be doing? I’d rather be lying in bed, drinking tea, watching The Walking Dead, and eating a cookie. No, not an ordinary, chewy chocolate chip cookie or a sandy, buttery wedge of shortbread, or something like that. I want….a ricciarelli. I don’t actually know how to pronounce these little cookies but I do know how to eat them and I do know that they’re delicious. What they are are gem shaped almond cakes, dry on the outside and chewy on the inside, coated in a dusting of confectioners sugar and lightly flavoured with almond extract and orange zest to enhance their bite. They’re wonderful with a cup of tea or sick in bed with the flu.

 

Ricciarelli 

Adapted slightly from this recipe by Nigella Lawson
Makes about 15 diamond shaped almond cookies

1 large egg white
pinch of salt
110g sugar
Zest of half an orange or one clementine
1 tsp almond extract
150g almond flour
Icing sugar

Whisk the egg whites and salt on high speed of a stand mixer or hand held mixer until frothy. Add in the sugar a little at a time until all is incorporated and the egg whites hold stiff peaks. Mix in the zest and almond extract. Fold in the almond flour and mix until well incorporated.

Dust your hands with icing sugar to prevent them from sticking to the dough. Portion the dough into 15 balls while constantly dusting hands with more sugar. Shape the balls into diamonds by pinching the ends and pressing the centres down flat. Space the ricciarelli out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, lightly cover with another piece of parchment and let dry over night or for about 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250˚F and bake the ricciarelli for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before dusting with icing sugar through a fine mesh sieve.

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