Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sweet spiced pecans

These are incredibly moreish spiced nuts that are a lot cheaper than buying the ready-made honey-roasted nut selections that come out every Christmas. They also make the whole house smell amazing and Christmassy while they are cooking.

You can get big bags of nuts from any health food shop for quite good prices.


500g pecan nuts
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg white
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 150C

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg white until it is foamy but not stiff.

Add sugar, cumin, cayenne pepper and cinnamon and mix until combined. Add pecans to egg-white mixture; stir with rubber spatula until all nuts are coated.

Spread nuts evenly over 2 baking sheets and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the coating is golden brown and dry.

Cool nuts on baking sheets until they are cool enough to break up (as they might have stuck together while baking)

Store in zip-lock bags or tupperware for up to 2 weeks.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I am making Christmas hampers this year for people, so the next few posts are things that will be contained within them. I have to be able to send them across to the UK in one piece so they need to be hardy and able to stand the week or so they will be out of refrigeration, awaiting Christmas morning.

These Italian almond cookies are really simple and impressive. They're fun to make and are also gluten free. The only tricky thing can be finding the almond flour for them. I have a lovely Italian bakers nearby where I can buy this but health food shops should have it. Almond flour is more fine than ground almonds, so at a push, you can make almond flour from grinding blanched almonds in a food processor until they are very, very powdery.


2 cups almond flour
2 large egg whites
2 tbsp cornflour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp bitter almond extract

For rolling you need an additional cup of icing sugar.

Preheat oven to 150C

Mix the almond flour, icing sugar, cornflour and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl.

Beat the egg white separately until they are stiff and fold them into the almond mixture.

Add the almond extract and stir until you have a soft dough. You should be able to pinch off a piece of the mixture and roll it into a fairly tight ball so if you feel your mixture is too soft, add extra almond flour.

Cover a clean worktop with a small pile of icing sugar.

Form one tablespoon of dough into a small ball, coat in the sugar, and flatten it out slightly so you have a lozenge shape.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet covered with a silicon baking mat. Just before placing in the oven, press a clean fork down in the middle of each cookie to create an indentation.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until light gold in colour. You don't want to over-cook these cookies as the joy of them is in the chewy texture.

The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.