Morning tea hasn’t happened in my house for a while. We’ve had plenty of afternoon teas. We’ve had cakes and scones and sandwiches. We’ve had cookies, but they’ve been big fat cookies, the kind of cookies that are good to munch during a long night in, at the end of an otherwise too small lunch, or in response to the hunger pangs that arise on the walk home from school. So today I made hazelnut biscuits, perfect for placing on the saucer next to a cup of tea or good coffee.
The recipe I adapted from Stephanie Alexander The Cook’s Companion. She calls for thinly sliced candied peel to be added but I switched for dried cranberries (as below) and increased the quantity of ground hazelnut and decreased the almond meal of the original recipe.
200 grams castor sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
60 grams chopped dried cranberries (although perhaps not chopped next time)
180 grams ground hazelnuts
120 grams ground almonds
½ teaspoon baking powder
Beat eggs, castor sugar and vanilla until the batter is paler than when your started and it is coat-the-back-of-a-spoon thick. Fold in remaining ingredients. Using a piping bag with no nozzle, pipe the mixture in fingers onto baking trays line with paper. Bake for 30 minutes in a 140º C oven. Once out of the oven dibble a thin icing made from:
1 cup pure icing sugar
juice of one lemon
The original recipe did call for the egg and sugar batter to be beaten until ‘pale and thick’. This instruction lead me to a quarter hour of frenzied beating but the batter never would get as thick as I thought it should – nowhere near as thick as egg yolks will go if they are beaten alone. Hopefully my instruction, while less elegant, may help avoid any extraneous beating. Candied peel might give a more exciting tang to the biscuit but I never really like peel. Cranberries certainly add a similar sour flavour, and a somewhat Christmassy look, but perhaps fresh peel might be a nice change next time.
The amoretti biscuit that one occasionally receives with coffee at an Italian cafe always fill me with happiness. When I see them. When I eat them, I often find that they are dry, over-crumbly and contain too much almond extract or they are just too small. Wordsworth biscuits are much more satisfying but still light enough for a morning tea. Also, compared to some of those other almond biscuits, these are really, really easy to make.