Showing posts with label Bitterkoekjes (Dutch Bitter Almond Cookies). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bitterkoekjes (Dutch Bitter Almond Cookies). Show all posts


Almonds have a prominent place as an item of luxury in the baked goods of the Netherlands. One of our oldest cookery books, Een notabel boecxken van cokeryen (A Remarkable Book on Cooking) published around 1514 by Thomas van der Noot in Brussels, already contains several almond based recipes. Christmas stollen are enriched by having a ribbon of almond paste running through its middle, speculaas is enhanced by adding a layer of almond paste inbetween, and numerous cookies and pastries contain almonds in various ways. 

So too today's cookie, the bitterkoekje, bitter cookie, so named after the bitter almonds that were traditionally used in its recipe. In a different book, this one from 1832, it said that "cookies made from bitter almonds" were shared at weddings to symbolize the ups (sweet) and the downs (bitter) of marriage. What a pity that this custom is no longer practiced! 

Bitterkoekjes are crispy on the outside and slightly chewy in the middle, and are made with the basic ingredients of ground almonds, powdered sugar, and egg white. The bitter flavor comes from pure almond extract. so check your extract to make sure it lists "bitter almond oil" in the ingredients.  Because they don't contain any flour, these cookies are also a good gluten-free option. If you choose almond flour instead of grinding your own, read the ingredients list to make sure there are no other additives.

1 cup (150 grams) powdered sugar, packed
1 1/2 cup (150 grams) finely ground almonds 
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 eggs, egg whites only, divided

Line your baking sheet with a double layer of parchment paper. Heat the oven to 375F/190C. Sift the powdered sugar. Mix the almond with the powdered sugar, the salt, the almond extract, and one egg white until it's well mixed. Add a little bit at a time of the second egg white until you have a consistency that can be piped but is not too liquid that it will spread on its own - look at the picture to the right for an example of consistency. 

Pipe marble sized dollops onto the baking sheet (or use a tiny ice cream scoop, or two small spoons) leaving a little bit of space between. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, but check the color after 10 minutes. Because of the high sugar content, these tend to go from light golden to dark brown in no time, so keep checking! Makes approx. 60 small cookies.

Cool on the paper on a rack, and when they're cooled, peel them off the paper. Keep in a tin. As time passes they will get hard if you're in a dry climate - a slice of bread in the tin will help soften. 

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