I made these Almond and Cardamom Meringue Cookies and could barely get them onto the baking sheet because of all the finger licking that was going on. If I come down with a ferocious case of salmonella, you’ll know why. All that sweet meringue, spiced with cardamom, and accented with the texture and flavor of ground almonds made a delicious batter, and an even better finished cookie. But then, I’m a sucker for anything meringue.
These cookies couldn’t be easier to make. Essentially, you whip egg whites with powdered sugar and then fold in ground almonds. You can buy almond meal, which is finely ground, blanched almonds, or make your own, which is what I did when I discovered I didn’t have any on hand. Just be sure not to grind it so much that you end up with almond butter.
The recipe comes from a new cookbook called “Afghan Desserts Made Simple” (Dog Ear Publishing, 2010). It’s the only Afghan dessert cookbook we know of, probably for good reason. There frankly aren’t a whole lot of Afghan desserts to write about. Afghans most often turn to dried and fresh fruits to satisfy their sweet tooth. Prepared desserts are reserved for special occasions. Truth be told, this recipe isn't authentically Afghan. It's inspired by an Afghan almond cookie. But, using this many egg whites and this many ground almonds would be prohibitively decadent in Afghanistan.
The book is written by Sina Abed, a woman who, like so many in Afghanistan, fled her home in Kabul and came to the United States with her family. Like our blog, her book is a way to keep a record of the precious recipes that are preserved in the memories of the women who left Afghanistan over the past several decades. This particular cookie is well worth preserving in your own repertoire of recipes.
Almond and Cardamom Meringue Cookies
2 ½ cups almond meal *
¾ cup all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups powdered sugar
Whole or slivered almonds for garnish
Makes 3 dozen cookies.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix together the almond meal, flour, and cardamom. Stir well.
In a large, immaculately clean mixing bowl, whip the egg whites with an electric beater until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the almond meal into the egg whites, mixing until you have a smooth, even consistency.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop large spoonfuls (about 2 tablespoons or so) of the batter onto mounds on the baking sheet. Top each mound with one whole almond or two slivered almonds.
Bake until the cookies just begin to brown around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Less cooking time will result in a chewier cookie.
Adapted from “Afghan Desserts Made Simple,” Sina Abed, (Dog Ear Publishing, 2010)
*You can make your own almond meal by grinding blanched almonds in a blender. Grind the almonds enough so they form a fine meal, but not so much that it begins to stick together and resemble almond butter.
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