The lockdown continues here and life is difficulty but not without generosity. I have lately received succulents in the mail, a small jar of saffron, a delivery of flowers and an embroidery by a friend. Where possible I like to give a little. Sharing gifts is one of the ways we have of connecting with others in a world that seems to push us apart. These almond thumbprint jam drops were a gift that I baked a few weeks back.
I was inspired to make these biscuits (aka cookies) when I visited my local farmers market for the first time in months. It was so nice to be able to browse interesting foodie stalls outside. At the jam stall I found a recipe for gluten free almond thumbprint jam drops. It seemed a great gift for a friend whose cat had died recently.
Recipes are often written so simply but do not always correspond to the contents of my pantry. I was relieved to find I had a jar of apricot jam as called for, but then I found a half used banana. I also found I had used up all my gluten free flour so I used some panko breadcrumbs, linseeds, besan and coconut instead. I really love desiccated coconut in baking and the seeds and crunchy breadcrumbs really added to the texture.
These additions might not be for everyone but the beauty of gluten free baking is the wonderful range of gluten free grains and add-ins from just using gluten free flour or digging into the pantry to use up whatever you fancy. My recipe below shares what I did but I expect it would be altered if I made it again depending on what I have available.
Thumbprint biscuits are always fun and easy to make. I only had a few hours between returning home from the farmers market and going for a walk with my friend. The mixture came together in the food processor without too much fuss. The mixture was a bit sticky but I had a glass of water on hand that I used to keep my hands damp so they did not end up covered in the sticky mixture.
The most fun in making thumbprint biscuits is making the thumbprint. The mixture gets rolled into a ball and then you stick your thumb in it to make a dent. It is very satisfying. Sylvia was about while I was making it and could not resist coming over and could not resist coming over and leaving her thumbprint in a few bikkies.
I was a bit unsure if I baked them too much. They baked at quite a rate and so below I have suggested 160 C rather than 180 C which my recipe called for. My oven seems to bake much slower than others but these biscuits became golden brown rather easily before I added the jam and then quite brown afterwards. So I would like to try them at a lower heat.
Most of the biscuits were really delicious with a lovely chewy centre. Just a few were a bit over crisp! I packaged up some for my friend before we went on our walk. Some of the biscuits were packaged up as a Father's Day present with some other goodies from the Farmers Market. The next day I went for a walk with another friend who was having a tough time and just had her first Pfizer vaccination. I took along some biscuits and some chocolate for her to congratulate her on her first jab. I really enjoyed the few biscuits that were left but was pleased not to have a huge batch to eat myself. (Sylvia was not keen.)
I was quite sad I didn't have a chance to take some of the biscuits to Geelong for a Father's Day offering. It's been a long time since I have seen my family who live only about an hour's drive away. I missed having a family lunch. And given there are a few gluten free diets in my extended family, I am sure these would have been appreciated. Maybe next year!
I wish I could tell you that lockdown should be over soon but we have now had our "roadmap" out of lockdown which is depending on us getting our vaccination rates up. Lockdown will not end until we have 70% of the eligible population double vaccinated. Currently in Victoria we have 44% double vaccinated. The government says we will probably reach 70% on 26 October. Until then I can't go for a swim at my local pool or go into the office or recharge leave or see friends from the other side of Melbourne or go to cafes and department stores. And it is predicted to be at least a week after this that I can visit my family outside Melbourne. Such a long wait.
Julia Baird has written about burnout in lockdown which resonates with me and those about me. It feels like armageddon at the moment with so many people having terrible mental health conditions, lots of covid exposure sites around my neighbourhood, construction workers protesting and other lockdown protests. Thank goodness for vaccination, online communications and the support of family and friends.
Chewy Almond Thumbprint Jam Drops
Adapted from Jam by Fiona
Makes about 24
200g raw almonds
25g gluten free panko breadcrumbs
100g besan flour
50g desiccated coconut
3 egg whites
150g castor sugar
40g apricot jam
25g banana, mashed
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
Jam for filling thumbprints
Preheat oven to 160 C.
Place almonds, linseeds and breadcrumbs in the food processor and blend until finely ground. Pulse in besan and coconut. In a large jug, lightly whisk the egg white, then stir in the sugar, jam and mashed banana (plus vanilla if using). Pour into the almond mixture in the food processor and pulse to combine.
Roll into walnut sized balls! (Use some water to dampen your hands so that the mixture does not stick to you.) Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Stick a damp thumb into each ball to slightly flatten it and leave a hollow in it that can be filled with jam.
Bake biscuits for 10-15 minutes until very lightly golden. Remove from oven and spoon jam into each hollow. Return to oven for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and store in a air-tight container.
NOTES: These biscuits/cookies are not overly sweet. I didn't use the vanilla and am not keen on vanilla but if it is something you use a lot, you might want the added flavour. I used some banana because I had it but you could either substitute the apricot jam for banana or the banana for the jam, depending on what you have about. I used linseeds, breadcrumbs, besan (chickpea flour) and coconut instead of gluten free flour. If you don't have my combo, you could either use gluten free flour or use a combination of gluten free grains you have in your kitchen. I would definitely use the coconut if making these again as I love the texture and taste. I didn't measure the jam I used but it was quite a bit - close to half a 300ml jam jar.
On the Stereo:
Abbasolutely: a Flying Nun tribute to the music of ABBA