Gluten-free, dairy-free and oil-free almond cookies lightly spiced with cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
Let me tell you how these cookies came to be.
Originally, I was going to find my gingerbread man cookie cutter and make a batch of sugar cookies. But then I thought of all that rolling and cutting and re-rolling and flour ending up all over the floor and… Well, basically I couldn’t be bothered.
So, I thought I’d bake some of my beloved, easy to make amaretti cookies and decorate those. It was a solid plan, but I forgot to take one thing into account: my name is Claudia and I’m terrible at decorating cookies.
At least the cookies taste delicious, even if they look a little, uh, rustic. (Yes, I am writing this while munching on a cookie – ‘tis the season!).
To make these amaretti a bit ‘festive’, I added cinnamon, ginger, cloves and a tiny bit of brandy. You could replace the brandy with apple cider or maple syrup, if you’d prefer.
The spices are definitely on the subtle side, so feel free to increase (or even double) the cinnamon, ginger and cloves if you’re after a spicier cookie.
Just like my other amaretti cookies, these are gluten-free, dairy-free and oil-free. The only ‘flour’ in the cookies is almond meal (or almond flour). The almond meal and egg whites create a chewy texture without the need for added oil or butter.
It’s important not to over-bake amaretti (or any cookies, for that matter) to ensure they remain moist and chewy. Amaretti are a little more forgiving than, say, chewy chocolate chip cookies, but they still don’t like to be over-done.
The key is to take the amaretti out of the oven when the the tops are a little bit firm – but they aren’t hard either. The cookies will still be very soft when they’re done. Like all cookies, they continue cooking while cooling, so don’t worry if they seem a bit under-baked.
Once the cookies have cooled, feel free to decorate them as beautifully or ridiculously as you’d like. After all, it’s Christmas!
- 2 large egg whites
- ½ cup (110g) superfine (caster) sugar
- 2 cups (180g) almond meal
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons brandy
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 18 - 20 blanched almonds
- Preheat the oven to 320°F (160°C). Line two baking sheets with non-stick paper.
- In a large bowl (or in the base of an electric mixer), beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the superfine sugar until the egg whites are glossy and form stiff peaks.
- Gently fold in the almond meal, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, brandy and vanilla bean paste. The cookie dough will be very soft and sticky.
- Carefully roll the dough into walnut-sized balls, and place on the prepared baking sheets. Alternatively, simply drop heaped spoonfuls of dough onto the trays. Top each cookie with a blanched almond.
- Bake for 14 – 17 minutes, or until the tops are a little bit firm when touched (but aren’t hard either).
- Let the cookies sit on the sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.
Almond meal - or almond flour - refers to ground-up almonds that have the texture of sand.
You can replace the brandy with apple cider or maple syrup, if you'd prefer.