Last week was a busy one at Brain Food. The highlight was definitely the talk I was invited to give on Wednesday night to a group of children’s therapists, including speech therapists, educational psychologists, clinical psychologists and specialist teachers. I gave a short presentation of my nutrition practice, before talking in greater detail about the links between food and behavior. I also explained how and why how some children with special needs may benefit from special diets, and shared a few case studies. I particularly enjoyed the Q&A session after my talk, which led to a lively discussion of a variety of issues close to my heart, such as the importance of nutritious school lunches and how to get children to eat the healthy food that is on offer.
It was also a very cold, wet week even by London standards. At home everyone was feeling a bit run down and tired. So I took the time to bake one of my family’s favorites, cranberry amaretti. These amaretti are comfortingly rich and nutty, but also have a fresh note coming through from the lemon zest – dare I say a little reminder that spring can’t be THAT far away?
These cranberry amaretti are adapted from an Ottolenghi recipe for sour cherry amaretti. I always keep an eye out for Italian biscuits and cakes as I look through my cookbooks, as they often call for ground almonds instead of flour and are frequently gluten and dairy free. I had the idea to swap cranberries for the sour cherries a few years ago when I was looking for Thanksgiving-friendly recipes that were gluten and dairy free – but my family loved these so much that I now make them year round.
Cranberry amaretti (adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook)
180g ground almonds
120g caster sugar
60g dried cranberries
grated zest of 1 lemon (I use a microplane grater for this)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
pinch of salt
2 large egg whites
approximately 3 tablespoons runny honey
approximately 50g icing sugar
Makes 18-20 amaretti
Preheat your oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
In a large bowl, combine the ground almonds, caster sugar, cranberries, lemon zest, almond extract and salt.
In another large bowl, beat the egg whites using a hand-held electric mixer or a standing mixer while gradually adding the honey, until they form soft peaks. (I squeeze the honey directly into the eggs whites from the container.)
Gently fold the dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites.
For best results, chill the batter for 3 hours in the refrigerator. This will help the amaretti to keep their shape. But feel free to skip this step – the amaretti may flatten out slightly while cooking but will still be delicious!
Put most of the icing sugar in a shallow bowl or soup plate. Using your hands, form the batter into balls, around the size of golf balls. Roll each ball in the icing sugar, place on the lined baking tray and press the sides with your fingers to make a slight pyramid shape.
Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and dust with the remaining icing sugar. The amaretti will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container.