Monday, July 12, 2010
Sometimes, you come across a recipe that looks so easy that you have to try it. And sometimes, you quickly start to regret that decision.
These almond cookies looked so simple -- only four ingredients! But then I started to make them. And then, I started swearing under my breath. The almond paste, well, it really didn't want to get along with the sugar and salt -- it would rather jump out of the bowl and onto the table (or even take the long plunge down to the floor) than combine properly. Eventually, I managed to beat it into submission, and I ended up with a rather meager-looking amount of dough.
Then, I looked at the recipe and saw a word I hated -- "pipe." I'm not very practiced at piping, so when I see "pipe," I read "this is going to be a pain and you're going to end up with a hand cramp and a sticky mess." I thought, well, I'll just spoon it, then, but the recipe calls for 3/4-inch cookies. Get out a tape measure or ruler, right now, and look at how tiny that is. Go ahead, I'll wait. *taps her foot and waits* See? Holy crap, that's tiny! And it's gonna be a pain to spoon out that small, so I guess I have to pipe it after all. (I did at least go with the plastic-baggie method, so I didn't have to wash a piping bag... and of course, the bag popped open on me and shot batter all over my hand, despite my best efforts.)
By the end of this, I was already thinking "I'm never making these again, I'm never making these again." But then, they came out of the oven, and they actually looked good, like proper cookies and everything.
And they're delicious, absurdly sweet and chewy and a little airy, with bright fruitiness from the jam I put inside them, a perfect foil for the sweetness. Alright, maybe I'll make these again, if somebody asks for them.
Chewy Amaretti Sandwiches
From Smitten Kitchen
3/4 c almond paste (not marzipan -- one small can or tube should do)
1 c sugar
Pinch of salt
2 egg whites, left at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
1. Separate the egg whites out and set aside. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and move the racks so there's one in the top position and one in the bottom position. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. (I usually skip the parchment, but don't skip it here -- you'll never get them off the pan otherwise.)
2. Beat together the almond paste, sugar and salt until combined. (Use a food processor if you have one. I don't, so I used a hand mixer.)
3. Add in the egg whites and beat until smooth.
4. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a 3/8-inch tip or a zip-top bag (zip the bag shut, then snip off one of the bottom corners). Pipe cookies 3/4 inch wide and about 1/3 inch tall, about 1 inch apart (they will spread). Tap down any points sticking up with a finger dipped in water.
5. Bake for about 7-8 minutes. Rotate the pans in the oven and bake for another 8-9 minutes, until puffed and golden.
6. Let cool on parchment before attempting to remove them. Serve plain or as sandwiches with raspberry jam or chocolate ganache in the middle.