Friday, December 17, 2010

Spicy almond biscuits to warm the coldest of hearts

There are bronze stars and red glitter-spangled baubles hanging from the ceiling above my desk at work. Silver stars and snowflakes and globes are strung from the banisters in my apartment and attached with paper clips to the small pine tree in the corner of one room. The house is filled with the scent of cinnamon and sugar.

Last night after yet another bellini* themed Christmas catch-up with yet another indispensible friend on my way to cook dinner for another different and equally valuable loved one, I stopped to buy a small Christmas gift for my mum. With a backpack full of dried fruit and nuts and Christmas cheer, a handbag containing frozen broadbeans, and an accumulation of several weeks worth of Champagne, I perhaps was not in the best frame of body or mind to browse in a crowded, tiny shop full of small gift type things.

A beautiful young man set aside a small something whilst I searched for additional perfect lovely things. I love Christmas, I hum carols, I adore that the world pretends to be shinier, more beautiful, more bearable for just the smallest window of time. To my very great shame, last night I got fed up and frustrated and walked out the shop before purchasing these gifts.

And the boy, who had so helpfully found the very last stocked item of a hard to find special something, ran out of the shop after me. He had already wrapped my pieces in Christmas paper. He was sorry it was so busy. He explained that it was Christmas. As if I didn’t know.

I couldn’t have felt more like Scrooge if I tried**. I walked back into the store.

This morning I made cookies. Something I have been meaning to do for weeks. To decorate the tree. To give as gifts. To just have the house smell like Christmas baking and holidays and love.

And this afternoon, I packed a brown paper bag with tissue paper and biscuits. I walked back up the street, intending to deliver them to the manager of the store I been so well and undeservedly served the night before. An anonymous gift. Except, the very same man who had been so patient the evening before was standing out the front of the shop. And he recognised me.

And there I was, with a bag of cookies. I explained that it was Christmas. As if he didn’t know. I couldn’t have felt more like Scrooge if I tried***. He walked back into the store. With the cookies.

* Fresh white peach puree, peach schnapps, prosecco.
** “He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.”
Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol
*** “And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!” Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

Almond spice biscuits

200 gm raw almonds (no need to have blanched ones, the skins are fine)
1/3 cup icing sugar
1/3 cup castor sugar
¾ cup flour
2 egg whites
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 150Âșc. Line several baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Put nuts in a food processors and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add everything else and pulse to combine.

Gather together into a ball. Roll out between sheets of plastic wrap (the egg white make it quite sticky).

Cut out with cookie cutters. Gather the scraps and roll out again, until no more dough is left.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Decorate and share.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This is something that I would love to make come Christmas! I better hurry! Thanks!