In the spirit of eating our way through the pantry, I made fior di mandorla the other day. It translates as “almond blossom” and it’s practically marzipan, slightly baked, and flavoured with lemon rind and vanilla. It’s like a soft, chewy amaretti.
It used up some nuts and a smidge of glace fruit, but I mostly made it because my partner got a whiff of almonds somewhere the other day and got a hankering for them.
We gorged ourselves on them in our trip to Sicily two years ago. I struggle to replicate them — their bitter almonds make all the difference, but they’re illegal to import to Australia because of the cyanide content. Also, you’re better off grinding the nuts in a hand-operated meat grinder, apparently, after you’ve blanched them yourself, even though the recipe says to go ahead and use a food processor if you don’t have one.
While I am convinced that the grinding would indeed make all the difference, I am never going to bother tracking down a hand-grinder for the pleasure of wearing out my arms for half an hour; but also, I found so little difference in the taste and grind when I used nuts that I had bothered to blanch, peel and grind in the food processor myself, compared to fresh almond meal that I’d bought (and I mean FRESH, from an ethnic supermarket that turns over a lot of the stuff — not that crap from the supermarket that is so bland and tasteless it might as well be anything) so I’ve decided not to bother spending an hour doing it myself anymore.
Despite these failings on my behalf, the biscuits still tend to turn out pretty tasty. The trick is to make sure that you let them dry out enough, before you actually bake them; otherwise they go all flat (and a bit hard) rather than staying big and puffy.
There’s heaps of variations, so I put glace fruit and nuts on some, rolled some in chopped-up pistachios and made lots of different shapes.