These Spanish almond cookies are my attempt at going abroad this year. In a culinary, if not actual, way.
James and I aren’t very good at going on holiday. We do overnight sojourns to odd corners of England every so often for various events, but we haven’t actually been properly ‘on holiday’ out of the country since a long weekend in Paris in April 2014. Which was incredible and wonderful and lovely and Paris is pretty much my favourite place and if every holiday for the next ten years was going back to Paris ad infinitum then I would be cool with it. But it was only for three days, and it was over three years ago.
Time and money, money and time. It’s so boring. They’re the same problems everyone else has too. But for some reason we haven’t managed to get round them, probably because I am an itinerant cookery teacher/freelance chef/food blogger. When you don’t have a proper salary and have full on anxiety about paying for things like the electricity and food, it’s kind of hard to justify spending money on flights and accommodation. And, er, more food in a different country.
We had a lovely little mini-honeymoon after we got married last year – a three day weekend in London. But we never went on the kind of honeymoon where you have to get vaccinations before you travel and end up take selfies at the top of mountains at sunset. And we’re never going to have that sort of honeymoon because no way am I climbing up a mountain voluntarily. But we have finally, tentatively, pencilled a week in Spain in October into the calendar. Flights to Spain are really cheap. We can worry about accommodation at a later date. Related: do I know anyone who lives in Spain?
Also, most importantly, the food in Spain is amazing. Or so I hear. I am trying to get into the spirit four months early with these little almondy morsels of delight. They are a liberally adapted version of what is apparently a Spanish almond cookie, so we’re not aiming for absolute authenticity here, but they are properly tasty: a crisp shell around a chewy, delicate interior, lightly lemon-scented and incredibly moreish. They’re also dairy and gluten free, and I was halfway to convincing myself they were healthy before I remembered the sugar.
Based on and adapted from this recipe for Spanish almond cookies.
This recipe is stunningly easy. Only a few ingredients, five minutes to make the dough, five minutes to shape it into cookies, fifteen minutes in the oven, and you’re away. No dairy, no gluten, they keep well. Clearly the Spanish are onto something.
I doubled the recipe for these photos because I wanted to give the cookies to a friend, but the quantity below makes around 12-15 cookies, depending on how big you make them.
I made the dough in a food processor because I’m lazy, but you could just as easily do it in a large bowl.
150g ground almonds
80g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg
handful of whole, skin-on almonds to top the cookies
- Heat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Line a baking sheet. Pop your ground almonds, sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a food processor, and blitz for a few seconds to combine. Add your egg, and blitz again, stopping to scrape down the sides. You should end up with an even, sticky dough.
- Dampen your hands slightly with cold water so that the dough doesn’t just stick to your fingers, and roll it into balls, each around 1 tbsp worth of mixture. Arrange them on your baking sheet, press a whole almond into each one, and bake for around 15 minutes until golden. If your oven bakes unevenly you might want to turn the tray halfway through cooking.
August 2017 – I made about 200 of these as part of a wedding dessert table I was handling a couple of weeks back, and I can report that they freeze really excellently well.