Fifteenth Century Sephardic Sweetness

Although this week’s recipe has been adapted from a 15th Century Sephardic one, if’s so overwhelmingly flavorful, it has evolved to take its place on any holiday table, or any table, any day, for that matter. We really hope you will give it a try. This concoction will not disappoint. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Ingredients

2 cups Spanish Marcona blanched almonds, plus about 30 extra Marcona almonds for decoration

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

White chocolate blocks

Blue sprinkles (decoration)

Blue dark chocolate bits (decoration), or

Blue coated almonds (for decoration) or

Blue marzipan, for decoration

 

Basically a 5-ingredient recipe, not counting the decorations. It couldn’t be any easier. Isn’t chemistry wonderful! It’s unbelievable that these little taste treats are so delicious with so little effort! Of course, in the 15th Century there were none of the kitchen conveniences we have now. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Directions

1.     Zest the lemon

 

Zest the lemon. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

2. Measure out the sugar and the almonds.

3. Using a food processor equipped with a metal blade, grind 2 cups almonds extremely well; until they begin to resemble almond flour.

4. Add 3/4 cup sugar, the egg and lemon zest, and pulse until the mixture begins to resemble dough, that you will be able to roll in your hands later.

5. Put the dough in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

 

The almonds have been ground down to a rough flour ( they will continue to be ground down) and now the sugar is added to the food processor, for more grinding. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Now adding the egg and the lemon zest, for more grinding. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

This dough will be covered with saran wrap and refrigerated overnight. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

8. Grate or shred the white chocolate into a small bowl.

 

Most good markets, like Whole Foods or Fairway, sell blocks of white and dark chocolate. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Do-it-yourself, shredded white chocolate. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc. 

 

9. Place remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl.

10. Pinching off pieces of dough about the size of a walnut, roll them first into balls, then into sugar. Only roll in sugar, the cakes that will not be dipped in white chocolate. Also, plan ahead. Don’t put an almond into the center of cakes that will later, be dipped into chocolate.

11. For plain cakes without chocolate, slowly press a whole almond, half-way into the center of each cake. On a baking sheet, place cakes one inch apart.

 

Roll the dough into small balls, the size of a walnut. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

12. Bake until cookies have barest hint of color but still remain soft, 8 to 10 minutes. (Cookies must be soft when removed from oven to avoid excess hardening when they cool.)

13. Cool completely, and store in an airtight container.

 

Going into the oven. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Out of the oven, here’s a different batch, some baked with a whole almond and some without. The ones without an almond, will be dipped, after cooling completely, into melted white chocolate. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

For variation, consider dipping all or some of these little cakes into white (or dark) chocolate, melted in a small frying pan over very low heat. For dipping, try using a combination of tongs to dip with, then transfer from tongs to a tablespoon or larger spoon. Push from the spoon, onto a plate or on parchment, to let them harden. While the chocolate is still soft, dust with a scant sprinkling of blue sugar then the tiny blue covered chocolate decoration or blue candied almond, or blue marzipan ball.

 

Over low heat, melt the white chocolate, for dipping. © Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Parchment is so convenient to keep in the kitchen all the time. In this recipe it was used for baking, cooling and finally for cakes that were dipped, then put back on the same baking parchment, to harden and to decorate. Then you just throw it away, after putting the cakes on a serving platter. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

I bought the blue sugar granules from Nuts.com. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

They taste as good as they look.  ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

A beautiful holiday presentation.  ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

One of the first experiments, gone the next day.  ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Beautiful holidays celebrated at the same time. We hope everyone is having a joyous and flavorful weekend. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Have a great week everyone!

From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!

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