Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Flourless Coffee Almond Cookies

After staying away from baked meringue in general, I am finally coming to the conclusion that I may like it after all!  I had tried pavlova ages ago and had not taken much of a liking to it. Since then I have been paying little attention to meringue based recipes.

When I asked for a recipe for flour less cookies, the Google Gods directed me to Purple Foodie's Flourless Hazelnut Cookies. They looked so delicate and pretty! No butter, no oil, just whipped egg whites, sugar and ground nuts. Not intimidating like French Macarons, so not much to lose! Shaheen's description of their aroma makes you feel like scrounging around for some hazelnuts, but then good quality ones are not so easy (or cheap!) to find. So almonds it would have to be. If there are going to be almonds, can coffee be left far behind? 

It would weigh on my conscience if I did not mention that there is a possibility I may not got these the way they are meant to be. Having never baked macarons, I realized half a cup of almonds and a fourth of cup of sugar are quite a bit to be folded into the whites of one egg. Though you can't possibly fold in the nuts and sugar without deflating the whipped whites to some extent, am not sure how much of it is alright in these cookies. 

But I am going right ahead and posting these as I found the cookies quite light, nutty, tender-crunchy and delicious!  Even assuming my cookies are not quite there, the results you can get can only be better! 

Apparently, these Italian cookies are called Brutti Ma Buoni literally meaning, “Ugly But Good''!  

Below is half the recipe on Shaheen's blog.  Please do double the recipe if you can bake them all at one go.

Recipe from here, original recipe here .  

Ingredients: (made about 20 cookies or so)

Whole Almonds -  75 grams / 1/2 cup ( or hazelnuts, lightly toasted and skinned, you could also try walnuts, read note)

Granulated sugar - 50 grams / 1/4 cup / 4 tablespoons
Instant coffee - 1 1/4 teaspoons (or orange zest)
Egg white -  30 grams / 1 large white
Powdered sugar - 1 tablespoon
Cream of tartar - a tiny, tiny pinch (about HALF of 1/8 tsp)
Vanilla extract - 3/4 teaspoon
Flaked almonds - 1/2 cup

  1. Preheat to 160°C/325°F. Line two baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.
  2. Put the whole almonds in a plastic cover, close and bash with a rolling pin to break them into uneven pieces. This will help you grind them fine without getting them oily.
  3. Pulse nuts, coffee (or zest) and sugar in a food processor or the smallest jar of your mixie until finely ground. Short 10-15 second turns, 2 times at the lowest speed will be good. Be sure not to overdo this as you need this to be like fine meal, not clumped up nuts and sugar. 
  4. Make sure your bowl and beaters for whipping egg whites are squeaky clean.
  5. Beat egg whites on low speed till you seem it foaming. Add the cream of tartar and beat on medium speed (3 on hand mixer) till you see traces of the beaters on the whites. This will look like shaving foam now. Add the powdered sugar slowly and continue beating on medium speed till stiff peaks form. When you raise the beaters slowly, the whites will stand up straight and not droop right away. If you are not there yet, continue and check after about 10-15 seconds. Be wary of over whipping as it will make the whites go dry.
  6. Using a silicone spatula, gently fold in the nut mixture into the whites ( I added in two additions). If adding vanilla or any other flavoring, you can add now when you fold in the nuts.
  7. The mixture looked quite heavy but foamy. Is this how it works in this recipe?? The moment of tragedy when my dreams of baking French macarons were completely shattered!
  8. I made cookies with half tablespoon batter each leaving about an inch space in between the cookies. They spread as they bake. Gently drop almond flakes on top of the cookies. Rap the baking sheet a couple of times over the counter.
  9. Bake for 22-24 minutes. The cookies will feel firm all over. If the center is softish, bake a couple of minutes more. Cookies which feel softish in the center will have chewy centers.
  10. Cool the cookies on the tray for about 5 minutes. Store airtight. 

Please note

1. Blanched or un blanched almonds make a difference to the color of the cookies, since I have used  coffee I have used them as is.

2. If adding coffee or  zest, add all at one go when you grind the nuts. Repeated addition of flavoring and grinding repeatedly however briefly makes the nuts turn oily. 

3. Shaheen has reduced the sugar from the original recipe, I have added one tablespoon more and this was just fine with the coffee. Please alter the amount of coffee to taste. 

4. Reading recipes for French macarons, folding in nuts into the whites seems to be acceptable. So no concerns on that count. 

Pretty or not, perfect or not, I loved them the way they turned out, am making these again!


divya said...

Loved ur all clicks, flavorful n perfect cookies!!

Unknown said...

Perfectly baked cookies.. awesome clicks :)