Thank goodness some things in life—like these sassy little espresso bar-style biscuits—are still simple, not least because coffee at home increasingly is not.
Time was when coffee was “instant”, percolated or, if you were Italian, from a hardworking stovetop Bialetti. Then came the plunger (aka the “French press” or cafetiere). Cappuccino was something people drank at cafes, sprinkled with chocolate powder, and caffe latte was more or less a mystery to most of us.
As cafe culture evolved we became more ambitious at home. Hard-core coffee lovers saved up for domestic models of hissing Italian-made espresso machines; affordable push-button mini-machines began walking out the doors of electrical stores. Coffee pods arrived and their convenience, coupled with the clout of a George Clooney advertising campaign, saw them installed in home kitchens across the globe—to the dismay of environmentalists. Coffee geeks, meanwhile, moved on to devices such as the Aeropress. Things have got complicated and we keep wanting more from coffee, hence handbooks such as the excellent Home Barista: How to Bring Out the Best in Every Coffee Bean (by TMix+ writer Simone Egger and co-author Ruby Ashby Orr).
Happily, these biscuits are not complicated at all. Made in less than half an hour, they keep nicely in the pantry—or, if you want to bake them to order, freeze the raw mixture in batches and have the biscuits fresh from the oven when friends arrive. Easy. Now all you have to do is rustle up a flat white, a long black, a long mac, a ristretto and a soy-decaf latte. By the time you’ve barista-ed up all of those, your biscuits will be cool and ready for a dusting of icing sugar.
Or, just quietly, you could simply put the kettle on—these little scoops of almond goodness will work beautifully with a pot of tea, too.
- Line two biscuit trays with baking paper. Heat the oven to 175C fan-forced.
- Add the almonds to the mixing bowl and chop 15 seconds/speed 5. The nuts should still have chunks in them, if you feel they are too big chop a further 5 seconds/speed 5.
- Tip the almonds on to one biscuit tray and toast them in the oven for 5–10 minutes. They should be lightly toasted. Allow the almonds to cool.
- Weigh the sugar into the mixing bowl and process 2 seconds/Turbo.
- Add the butter and mix together 30 seconds/speed 6. Insert the butterfly, then cream the butter and sugar 20 seconds/Butterfly/speed 4. Scrape the bowl down then repeat. The mixture should be well creamed and softened.
- Add the flour and the cooled almonds. Mix together 20 seconds/Reverse/speed 5, scrape the bowl down and mix again. To bring the dough together mix 20 seconds /Reverse/Knead. The mixture should be thoroughly combined.
- Use a small spring-loaded ice-cream scoop to make small scoops of dough, placing them on the trays as you go.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove to a cooling tray. Dust the biscuits with icing sugar once they are cold if liked.
AND … the grated zest of an orange or lemon is a good addition if you like a citrus note. While we love almonds here, other nuts can be substituted; just treat them the same way. This recipe makes 40 little biscuits but if that is too many for you in one go, freeze the extras for another time. Alternatively, freeze half the raw mixture and bake it later.