Makes 10-12 biscuits
Made with almonds, candied peel and egg whites, I’ve added whole fennel seeds and ground fennel powder to these traditional Italian biscuits. Often served at Christmas in Italy, they are delicious for any family celebration, including Easter. Crisp on the outside, with a chewy, moist middle, they are more interesting than amaretti – and won’t last long!
250g whole blanched almonds
25g candied orange peel
25g plain flour
120g caster sugar
2 egg whites
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp fennel powder (or toast whole fennel seeds and grind to a powder)
2 level tbsp icing sugar
Icing sugar to roll biscuits – about 150g
Cornflour to roll biscuits – about 50g
1. Put the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
2. Put the almonds, peel and flour in a food processor and blitz until it forms a doughy paste.
3. Add the cool syrup to the nut mixture and leave somewhere cool for at least three hours, or overnight.
4. Preheat the oven to 120°C.
5. Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl with the icing sugar until stiff peaks form. Combine the egg whites with the nut mixture and mix to combine with the baking powder and also the fennel. The mixture will be very loose.
6. Line a flat baking tray with greaseproof paper.
7. Mix the icing sugar and cornflour and dust some of it liberally over the greaseproof paper.
8. Add the remaining icing sugar and cornflour mixture to the worktop and tip the paste out on to it.
9. Incorporating some of the icing sugar and cornflour mix into the paste, shape the paste into a long, flat, sausage shape and cut off pieces about 3cm in size. Shape and place the biscuits on the tray not touching each other.
10. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the surface is crisp and cracked, but the centre remains deliciously chewy.
11. Enjoy with a cup of freshly brewed coffee.