Preserved Lemon and Almond Cake


Certain recipes do not really warrant an introduction given how well known (and well loved!) they are. Claudia Roden’s Orange and Almond Cake is one of those recipes. A fat-free sponge made with whole oranges (cooked until soft) and ground almonds instead of flour, the final cake is more than the sum of its parts. Simple in appearance, the cake is deliciously moist and incredibly perfumed thanks to the use of two whole oranges per cake.

In fact, it is so good that once you start making it, it becomes difficult to stop. My parents went through a long phase of cooking oranges in batches (the process takes about 1 hour) and freezing the orange pulp so the cake was that little bit quicker to prepare once another craving for Claudia Roden’s delicious cake struck.

I read Helena Atlee’s The Land Where Lemons Grow with great interest during the summer. And while I most certainly do not have a green thumb it was nonetheless fascinating to read about the origins of the different citrus fruits we now eat on an almost daily basis, how revered ornamental citrus trees once were and the impact the appearance (and disappearance) of certain types of citrus has had on local economies all over Italy. Reading about some of the challenges of growing citrus (and the sudden mutations that can happen) has made me appreciate even more the subtly varying flavours different citrus fruits have.

There are a couple of lemon varieties native to Morocco, typically called citron beldi (i.e. traditional lemon). What they have in common is that they are rather small in size (not much larger than a ping pong ball) and coloured bright yellow that almost tinges into orange. They are incredibly fragrant with a perfume not unlike that of bergamot lemons (the flavour we all recognise from Earl Grey Tea). Their most famous use is probably in preserved lemons – one of the key ingredients of many delicious Moroccan tagines.

If you can get your hands on citron beldi or similarly profumed lemon varieties such as meyer lemons, it is very easy to make preserved lemons at home (David Lebovitz has a simple recipe on his website). In theory you can use whatever lemons (ideally organic) you can find at the market, but the flavour will be slightly different using normal varieties. Failing that, most Middle Eastern and North African delis will sell preserved lemons by weight these days.

In addition to flavouring tagines, preserved lemons are also a wonderful addition to salads, they can serve as the base for a North African twist on gremolata to finish off rich stews (substituting finely diced preserved lemon peel and coriander for the lemon zest and parsley) and can be used for all manners of different marinades, especially for fish. But one should not stop there. Given how fragrant they are, I was curious to see how a cake made with preserved lemon would taste. And what better recipe to adapt than Claudia Roden’s Orange and Almond Cake.

Preserved Lemon and Almond Cake

Adapted from Claudia Roden

Notes: If you love lemon flavoured cakes, you will love this cake. It is true that preserved lemons are stored in a salty brine, but once you rinse off the lemons and boil them in water, the saltiness is neutralised. So all the preserved lemons impart to the cake is their beautiful perfume. And the ground coriander? Earthy yet zesty in flavour, the small amount of this spice tames the perfume of the preserved lemons just enough to ensure the cake does not taste overly perfumed or soapy. In short, if you have been wondering what to make with that jar of preserved lemons lurching at the back of your fridge, make this cake!

4 preserved lemons
6 eggs
250g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
250g sugar
1/2 tsp ground coriander


In a medium saucepan boil the preserved lemons for ca. 20 minutes or until soft. Drain and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a round springform and line with parchment paper.

Cut the lemons in half, remove the seeds, then add the lemons to the bowl of a food processor. Process until roughly chopped. Add the eggs, ground almonds, baking powder, sugar and ground coriander and process until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared springform. Bake for ca. 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the springform before serving.

The cake will keep ca. 5 days at room temperature.

(The recipe is easily halved. If so, reduce the baking time to ca. 30 minutes and start checking for doneness around 25 minutes.)

Turmeric Tonic


That nasty sore throat I brought back from my summer holiday? It is thankfully long gone. What is not gone is my mild obsession with turmeric, especially fresh turmeric. While I always have powdered turmeric at home to cook with, I only recently started buying fresh turmeric (mainly because my local organic supermarket only recently started stocking it).

So, while I was still soothing that sore throat, one day I decided to make turmeric tea using fresh turmeric instead. And it was nothing short of a revelation. While I used to dutifully sip mug after mug of turmeric tea to help my at times battered immune system, I cannot say I ever much enjoyed its flavour (and in fact I always tried to hide it underneath copious amounts of honey). Yet the same tea made with fresh turmeric tea is positively delicious because the balance of flavours of fresh turmeric is completely different. Fresh, the root has a really bright and almost zesty flavour, sweet yet earthy. And that acrid flavour that can be overpowering when using dried turmeric? It is barely noticeable in the fresh root. Fresh turmeric is so delicious in fact, I now happily drink turmeric tea and even make a turmeric soda (and I may or may not have enjoyed the odd gin & (turmeric) tonic too once that cold was gone)!

Maybe you don’t drink turmeric tea at all when you have a cold. Maybe you already know about fresh turmeric. But in case you don’t, and you too have been dutifully sipping acrid turmeric tea for too long, then today’s recipe is for you. Because I could not keep all that deliciousness all to myself. So in a short break from cookies, cakes and other baked goods and desserts today we will have turmeric tonic instead (and fret not, more cake is coming!).

Turmeric Tonic

Note: Unless you use kitchen gloves or a food processor, chances are making turmeric tonic will heavily stain your hands an any other surface it touches. Given this, I now tend to make a big batch of turmeric tonic (it will keep for about a week if stored in the fridge). And while I am no nutritionist, I have read that some suggest adding freshly ground black pepper when drinking turmeric tonic to help the body absorb or all those immune-boosting properties of turmeric, so I have included that suggestion below.

Makes enough turmeric tonic for ca. 2-2.5 L of turmeric tea or turmeric soda


500ml water
2 tbsp grated fresh turmeric
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp honey

To serve: extra hot water (for turmeric tea) or sparkling water (for turmeric soda), juice of 1/2 lemon per person (or to taste), optional: freshly ground black pepper


Bring the water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Turn off the heat. Add the turmeric and ginger. Cover the pot and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain (discarding the turmeric and ginger) and add the honey, stirring to dissolve the honey completely.

For turmeric tea, add 1 part tonic to 3-4 parts hot water (depending on how strong you like it) and the juice of 1/2 lemon per mug (and you may want to add extra honey if you prefer things sweeter).

For turmeric lemonade, wait until the turmeric tonic has come to room temperature. Use 1 part tonic to 3-4 parts sparkling water (again, depending on how strong you like it). Add the juice of 1/2 lemon per glass (again, feel free to add more honey if you prefer things sweeter) and finish off with some ice.

To store, pour the turmeric tonic into a glass bottle or large jam jar and place in the fridge where it should keep about a week.

Lebanese Sfouf Cake


We have been back from Malaysia for just over a week. Despite the occasional afternoon of heavy rain (early signs of Monsoon perhaps?), we had an amazing time and probably saw more wildlife than ever before in our lives. But my favourite part was actually our short trip to the Cameron Highlands, an area North East of Kuala Lumpur which is famous for its mild climate, numerous tea plantations and streets lined with mock tudor mansions. While I had seen pictures of tea plantations before, I was completely taken aback by the smell surrounding the tea plantations, where the air is thick and heavy with the smell of the young tea leaves, not unlike freshly brewed Mate tea, although fresher and grassier.

Alas, two weeks of tropical temperatures with frequent frigid interludes thanks to the rather overzealous use of air-conditioning on buses, trains and planes had me return to Brussels with an eye-wateringly painful sore throat. So I have been spending the last week dutifully downing mug after mug of turmeric tea, hoping that turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties will kick my sore throat in the butt. In an attempt to make turmeric tea a little bit more palatable, I turned to google (it turns out the trick is to use fresh turmeric root!). And in doing so I came across a Lebanese cake called Sfouf.


While I had never heard of this cake before, it turns out it is a classic Lebanese cake typically served with tea. It is a simple cake that contains no eggs and that can be prepared in a single bowl in less than 5 minutes. What is unusual about this cake is that the recipe includes a healthy amount of turmeric – enough to turn the batter bright yellow!

I am forever trying to make the most of my spice drawer and trying to incorporate unusual (to-me) spices in my baking, so I was intrigued to try this recipe. And I am glad I did. The beautiful bright colour of the batter comes through in the finished cake and there is none of that bitter or acrid flavour turmeric can have if used too heavy-handedly. Instead the cake is only delicately sweet and tastes a little bit earthy (but in a nice way). While Sfouf will keep for about a week (if it even lasts that long) what I like even more about it is how easily it can be whipped up with ingredients you likely already have to hand.

Wonderful on its own alongside a cup of tea or coffee, one day I ate a couple of pieces for breakfast alongside some thick yoghurt and greengages poached in an anise-scented sugar syrup – an easy way to turn this plain cake into a simple and seasonal dessert while greengages are perfectly ripe and delicious.

Lebanese Sfouf Cake

Adapted from Marie Claire

Serves 8-12

Note: I have seen recipes for Sfouf made with and without ground anise. I am rather partial to anise’s flavour so have included it here – the combination of the turmeric and the anise gives this cake a beautifully earthy yet delicately sweet flavour. As the cake contains no eggs and is made with vegetable oil instead of butter it can easily be made vegan – simply substitute a plant or nut milk for the milk.


125g wholemeal spelt flour
125g wholemeal semolina
1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground anise
2 tsp baking powder
125g caster sugar
100ml vegetable oil
175ml milk
25g pine nuts

Tahini, for greasing the pan


Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and grease a pie tin or a springform with tahini.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, semolina, turmeric, anise, baking powder and caster sugar. Form a well in the middle and pour in the oil and milk. Whisk to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and scatter the pine nuts all over the batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake is risen, springy and lightly golden and a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Set aside to cool to room temperature before cutting into diamond-shaped wedges.


Toasted Sourdough Ice Cream – Goes Well With Coffee – 9th Edition


When I started the Goes Well With Coffee series I knew there had to be at least one ice cream recipe. For affogato. One of my favourite desserts. Nothing more than a delicious scoop of your favourite ice cream (ideally something neutral like vanilla but pistachio or roast almond work well too), drowned (affogato) in a shot of bitter espresso. The espresso cools down almost immediately as the ice cream starts melting. And while not exactly a pretty dessert, I love the contrast between the unsweetened and bitter still warm espresso and the cold, sweet and creamy ice cream.

If you follow me on instagram, you will have noticed that my feed is looking decidedly brown-ish these last few weeks with photo after photo of baked sourdough loaves, dough sitting in proving baskets and bags of flour from my favourite organic mill here in Belgium. I bought the third Tartine book for myself when I still lived in Rome. But the impending move to Brussels and getting settled here meant it took me almost a year to really start using it. And using it I most certainly am right now – following the mantra practice makes perfect, I am currently baking as many loaves as I can (which, given my work and travel schedule is about 4 times a month), taking notes of the process, watching endless videos on youtube on how to handle the high hydration dough Tartine is so famous for and slowly starting to tweak the process to my own liking. And while that perfect oven spring, the big holes and a soft and custardy crumb at times still elude me, I haven’t bought any bread since starting this endeavour so there is that.

Baking bread this frequently when I often find myself eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at my desk at work means I invariably have surplus bread. I have taken loaves to parties, travelled with them to Italy to share with Alessandro and his family, given them to friends and colleagues and my freezer is full to bursting with carefully wrapped loaves. And yet I invariably find myself with bread going stale every once in a while. While sourdough toasts up beautifully and makes delicious breadcrumbs, ever since the toasted breadcrumb dacquoise I made years ago, I was keen to try using sourdough bread in more sweet applications.

Using bread in ice cream is nothing new – there is after all the classic English recipe of brown bread ice cream. This is not dissimilar although even nicer in flavour if you ask me. Stale sourdough gets torn into small crumbs that are tossed in melted butter, sugar and sea salt and caramelised in the oven. These are then folded into a custard-based ice cream that gets a little bit of extra tang from creme fraiche (to mimic the slight acidity of the sourdough). And while delicious on its own, this ice cream is even better topped with a shot of your favourite espresso.


Toasted Sourdough Ice Cream

Note: I am just going to say it: you should make a double, scrap that, a triple batch of the caramelised sourdough crumbs. They are as addictive as kettle corn (if not more so) and you will find yourself grabbing a handful every time you step into the kitchen. So do yourself a flavour and make plenty – set aside 2-3 generous handfuls to stir into the ice cream once it is almost done churning and keep the rest for snacking. As for the ice cream, I tried infusing milk and cream with toasted sourdough (too much hassle and not a strong enough flavour to make it worth it), a cream cheese based recipe (the texture was all off), a mascarpone based recipe (funny mouthfeel) but in the end settled on a classic vanilla-flavoured custard. The one change I made was to lighten the custard with creme fraiche – this adds a nice little tang which mimics the slight acidity of the sourdough bread.


For the caramelised sourdough crumbs
200g stale sourdough bread, torn into small pieces (you are looking for pieces no bigger than a corn kernel – leave the crusts on as that is where a lot of the flavour is)
100g sugar
50g butter, melted
Generous pinch of sea salt

For the ice cream 
500ml full fat milk
1 used vanilla bean (I keep used vanilla beans to make vanilla sugar – we are not after a full on vanilla flavour here so just use a used one that has been split open, it will still have enough flavour to give the custard a lovely hint of vanilla)
5 egg yolks
100g sugar
250ml creme fraiche
1 batch of caramelised sourdough crumbs (see recipe above)


Start by preparing the caramelised sourdough crumbs. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a bowl mix together the sourdough crumbs with the melted butter, sugar and salt. Spread on the sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes until the bread is nicely coloured and fragrant. Set aside to cool.

To make the ice cream, heat the milk together with the vanilla bean until steaming point in a large sauce pan. While the milk is heating up whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a separate bowl. Slowly pour about a third of the steaming milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. This will temper the egg yolks and stop them from curdling.

Turn the heat down to low-medium and pour the egg yolk milk mixture back into the sauce pan with the rest of the milk. Discard the vanilla bean. Stirring constantly, cook the custard until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard into a bowl and set aside to cool. Stir in the creme fraiche and churn according to the instructions of your ice cream maker. Alternatively,  pour into a container with a lid and place in the freezer for 6 hours, whisking thoroughly every 30 minutes to 1 hour to prevent large ice crystals from forming. Once the ice cream is nearly done (it should be very thick but you should still be able to stir it), fold in the toasted sourdough crumbs.


Apricot Cornmeal and Buttermilk Clafoutis

Come summer, each and every trip to the farmers’ market results in me lugging home an almost ridiculous amount of fresh fruit – pints of strawberries, watermelons so big and heavy I can barely carry them by myself, apricots so ripe they only just about survive the 15 minute walk home from the market in one piece.

And every single trip starts with the best intentions. The strawberries will be turned into jam, maybe so I can finally make use of that jar of overpriced Tonka beans I picked up at a Delicatessen near my office. Those raspberries? They would be lovely if turned into raspberry and rose scones. And the apricots will most definitely be turned into a pie. Yet while I keep a ridiculously long list of recipe ideas and flavour combinations to try on my phone, when it comes to summer’s bounty, few of these ideas ever get tested.

Turning on the oven or switching on the stove when temperatures are finally comfortably in the mid-20s is just not very enticing. Also, most of summer’s bounty really tastes best fresh. The less these fruits are tinkered with the better. Raspberries, squashed ever so lightly with the tins of a fork, folded into softly whipped, sweetened, cream and stuffed between the two halves of profitelores the way my grandma makes them, strawberries macerated for as long as dinner takes with just a little bit of sugar, served with crème fraiche and some freshly ground pepper and a shortbread finger or two, juicy figs squashed between two slices of freshly baked pizza Bianca with some prosciutto.

But apricots? They are my one exception. As much as I love them, apricots can do with, in fact need, a little tinkering. And heat. The mealiest and flattest tasting apricot will become deliciously juicy, sweet but with a slight tartness, if exposed to some heat, whether poached in a spiced syrup, folded into scone dough or studding a clafoutis. So much so that I don’t even mind turning on the oven for them.


Apricot Cornmeal and Buttermilk Clafoutis

Notes: Clafoutis is the kind of thing of dessert that is super simple to pull off and that you can enjoy any time of the day. If I am having it for breakfast, I tend to enjoy it as is, maybe with a little dusting of icing sugar if I used very tart fruit. While apricot clafoutis may be my favourite type of clafoutis, clafoutis works equally well with other stone fruits (cherries are more traditional in fact). If you want to replace the apricots with very juicy fruits like cherries or blueberries, increase the eggs to 6 to ensure the clafoutis will still set.


4 eggs
50g honey
Pinch of salt
300ml buttermilk
50g polenta
500g apricots, halved with the stone removed


Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and grease a pie dish generously with butter.

In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs and honey until the frothy. Pour in the buttermilk and whisk to combine. Lastly, fold in the polenta and the pinch of salt.

Pour the batter into the pie dish and carefully sit the halved apricots, cut side up, in the batter. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until the clafoutis is puffed up and the centre is just set.

The clafoutis will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.


Tahini and Date Caramel Shortbread

_MG_9781 If anyone were to ask me about my favourite snack in 2015, I would have to say anything involving medjool dates. Work has been busy these past few months with plenty of late nights eating take-away sushi in the office. Yet however late I get home from the office I always want little bit of time for myself before going to bed. If time allows, my favourite way to wind down after a busy day at work is to curl up on the sofa, even if only for 30 minutes, a cup of tea in one hand and a new cookbook to browse in my lap. And because I have a raging sweet tooth, I will often also eat a medjool date with a square or two of dark chocolate and a pinch of sea salt. I would never claim that medjool dates taste exactly like caramel (they don’t, they just taste like dates). But the combination of dark chocolate, dates and sea salt is terrific in its own right (and, at least in my eyes, not unlike the good old Rolo chocolates). So after I kept on buying box after box of the sweetest and plumpest medjool dates at my local organic supermarket (I adore them so much I even took a box home to my parents in Germany), I started thinking about using dates, dark chocolate and sea salt in a dessert. A date ‘caramel’ twist on Millionaire’s Shortbread soon popped into my head. It sounded delicious but I also wanted to make sure the end result would not feel like a lesser version of the original. Eventually I settled on this tahini and date caramel version with plenty of tahini and sesame seeds and I am glad I did. The cardamom shortbread layer is wonderfully fragrant, the medjool date and tahini ‘caramel’ layer is as tooth-achingly sweet and gooey as the original and the tahini adds richness while also cutting through some of the sweetness of the medjool dates. And the toasted sesame seeds? Not only do they make these bars look pretty, they also provide a bit of bite – a nice contrast against the crumble shortbread, the soft date ‘caramel’ and the fudgey ganache. Summer is dragging its heels a bit in Brussels this year, yet we are being told that temperatures will reach the thirties next week and I cannot wait. Alessandro and I haven’t quite finalised our summer holiday plans yet. And until we do I am looking forward to slow mornings sipping iced coffee on my balcony, sunny morning runs around the lakes here in Brussels and impromptu picnics in one of Brussels’ many parks. And as much as I adore this season for all the sweet-as-candy strawberries, lip-staining cherries and apricots so ripe and soft they barley survive the walk home from the farmers market and that are all shouting to be turned into pies, galettes and ice cream, nothing beats a decadent chocolate-based treat and these Tahini and Date Caramel Shortbread Bars fit that bill perfectly.   _MG_9780  Tahini and Date Caramel Shortbread Bars Note: These were inspired by my love for the combination of medjool dates, dark chocolate and sea salt. And then this conversation happened with Sarah and Milli. You probably have to be a medjool date lover to enjoy these. If medjool dates are not your thing,  I would suggest replacing the date ‘caramel’ layer with an equal amount of dulce de leche into which you can stir the tahini and sea salt.  Ingredients For the Cardamom Shortbread 125g butter, at room temperature 50g sugar 125g spelt flour or all purpose flour 50g rice flour (alternatively you can use corn flour or tapioca starch) Seeds of 2 cardamom pods, finely ground A pinch of salt Tahini Ganache 150g dark chocolate (70 per cent), finely chopped 75g tahini Pinch of salt For the Date ‘Caramel’ 200g pitted medjool dates 50g tahini Salt to taste To garnish: 50g toasted white sesame seeds, sea salt Directions Start with the shortbread. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a round tart pan with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (the softer the butter is, the quicker this will be – in any event this should take no more than ca. 5 minutes). In a separate bowl whisk together the spelt flour, the rice flour, the ground cardamom and the salt. Add to your mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon or a plastic spatula work the flour into the beaten butter. At first the mixture will seem impossibly dry and as though the dough will never absorb all the flour, but just persevere, sooner or later almost all of the butter will have been absorbed into the dough. To mix the last remaining bits of flour into the dough, I like using a silicone spatula in a cutting motion. Once all the flour has been absorbed, press the dough into the tart pan until it covers the base of the tart pan and has an even thickness of around 1/2cm. Prick the dough with a fork all over, cover with cling film and place in the fridge to firm up for ca. 15 minutes. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until just starting to colour. Set aside to cool (and firm up). While the shortbread is baking, prepare the ganache. Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler. In a separate bowl mix the tahini with the sea salt, then stir in the melted chocolate until combined. Set aside. Place the pitted dates into a bowl and pour enough boiling water into the bowl to just cover the dates. Set aside to soak for 10 minutes (this will help soften the dates). Drain and discard the water and add the dates to the bowl of a food processor, followed by the tahini and the sea salt. Pulse until the mixture is completely smooth (this should take no more than ca. 1 minute). Set aside. Once the shortbread base has come to room temperature, spread the date ‘caramel’ in an even layer all over its base. Next, pour the tahini ganache over the date ‘caramel’. Set aside to allow the ganache to firm up a little bit then scatter the toasted sesame seeds and the sea salt over the chocolate ganache (if you do this while the ganache is still very liquid, the sesame seeds and the sea salt will simply sink and disappear into the ganache). Set aside until completely firm before cutting the shortbread into square bars. _MG_9763

Flourless Walnut Butter Cookies

_MG_9676 You know how sometimes everything magically falls into place? Well, sometimes, it also doesn’t. We were hoping Alessandro would be able to transfer to a position in Brussels or nearby once he finished his course in Turin this past month (so we could finally put an end to flying halfway across Europe to see each other). We had high hopes while we were waiting to hear back on his transfer request even if we knew that the likelihood of him having his request accepted were not exceptionally high. Alas, in the end he was transferred to a new position in Rome. And while Rome is a magical city, and arguably a great place to be for an Italian army officer, it is not really a place for commercial lawyers that aren’t Italian like myself. So we have been having a lot of long conversations over the last few weeks as we try to figure out our next steps. Trying to work out where we would want to settle in the future, Alessandro’s options for moving to Brussels in the future with his job (and how soon that may be), my options for moving back to Rome with my job etc. And some of these conversations have been hard. When both of you care about your work and your careers yet to pursue those careers you are best placed living in different countries, how do you come to a solution? Should both of you compromise your careers for your relationship? If not, who should compromise? And while all these questions are going through my head, questions to which we don’t yet have an answer, I am baking. And cooking. And baking some more. And yet, I haven’t picked up my camera much lately or been able to find the words to write until now. I had had a long week at work and a painful ear infection had kept me up 4 nights in a row. I was exhausted and irritable. But then Alessandro came to visit for the weekend and after a day of glorious sunshine and a daytrip to Ghent where we finally sought out De Superette for brunch, took a tour on Ghent’s canals, shared a box of chocolates from my favourite chocolatier in Ghent, Yuzu, and tried the beer at Gruut, somehow things started to look up again. And while for now we only have questions, we are both confident that we will find a solution that will make us happy in the long term. _MG_9667 Enough about me. Let’s talk about cookies. More specifically these Flourless Walnut Butter Cookies. I don’t really do cookbook reviews in this little space. And this isn’t one either. But it would not feel right to talk about these Flourless Walnut Butter Cookies without talking about the book that inspired them. The foundation of these cookies is the Vanilla Espresso Walnut Butter from Tara O’Brady’s debut cookbook. Tara’s book is truly stunning. The pictures are glorious. And then there is Tara’s beautiful writing – she is witty yet authoritative and a few pages into her book you will trust her to try recipes that you don’t think should work. A fresh curry sauce involving a granny smith apple and heaps of fresh coriander? I hesitated. And yet, I loved it so much I think juice bars should be adding an apple coriander juice with a bit of heat from fresh chilies to their menu. Tara’s book has found a place in my home because the recipes mimic so clearly how I like to cook and eat. Her recipes also make the most of my pantry which refuses to be shoehorned into a particular culinary tradition and where mirin and pomegranate molasses wrangle for counter space next to the bottles of olive oil, rose water, argan oil and oyster sauce. Tara’s walnut butter is incredibly delicious thanks to the addition of ground espresso and vanilla. I am generally more of a plain nut butter person but will have to make an exception for Tara’s walnut butter in the future as it is just that good. And all that deliciousness translates into these cookies – thanks to the bitter espresso I like to think of them as the grown-up version of flourless peanut butter cookies. And while the cacao nibs I added are purely optional, I like a bit of crunch for texture when eating softer cookies like these. _MG_9681 Flourless Walnut Butter Cookies Note: This recipe is no different from your typically flourless peanut butter cookie, except that it uses walnut butter instead of peanut butter. They are perfectly chewy and not overwhelmingly sweet, thanks largely to the slight bitterness of the walnuts, the ground espresso and the cacao nibs. While these are soft cookies, I think a short stay in the freezer would firm them up enough to smoosh a scoop of your favourite ice cream between two of these cookies, thereby making a fabulous ice cream sandwich. Makes 12 medium-sized cookies Ingredients 225g Tara’s Vanilla Espresso Walnut Butter* 75g caster sugar 75g brown sugar 1 tsp baking soda Generous pinch of salt 1 egg 25g cacao nibs *I used the recipe that is in Tara’s new book. If you do not have Tara’s book I suggest you use 190g plain smooth walnut butter, increase both the caster and the brown sugar to 90g each and stir ½tsp ground espresso and the seeds of two vanilla beans into the cookie dough. Directions Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two sheet pans with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl whisk the walnut butter together with the caster sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and salt until combined. Beat in the egg until well blended with the rest of the ingredients. Fold in the cacao nibs. Using oiled hands, shape the dough into 12 walnut sized balls and place them on the cookie sheets, leaving ample space between them (as the cookies will spread in the oven). The dough will be very soft – if you are having difficulties shaping the dough into balls, just place the dough in the freezer for ca. 10 minutes to firm up. Bake the cookies for ca. 15 minutes until puffed up and just starting to colour. Cool on the sheet until firm enough to move to a cookie rack (ca. 10 minutes)– while cooling, the cookies will buckle and flatten. Repeat with the remaining dough. _MG_9652