Given they're made using neither butter nor honey, it's tempting to think of these biscuits as a kind of poor man's florentines. Be that as it may, they're crisp, rich and delicious and absolute child's play to make. I guarantee they'll quickly become part of your baking repertoire. A note about the baking: the biscuit mixture is spread very thinly on the baking tray and a strong, fan-forced oven can send the delicate almond flying; use a conventional heat option instead.
50g egg white (from 2 eggs)
80g icing sugar, sifted
⅛ tsp salt
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
seeds from 12 cardamom pods, crushed* (optional)
¼ cup dried barberries or chopped dried sour cherries* (optional)
200g flaked/sliced almonds
150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1. Place all the ingredients except the almond and chocolate in a small bowl. Stir together until well combined, then fold in the almonds. Be gentle, but thorough; you need an even mix without the almond breaking up too much.
2. Preheat the oven to 160C (conventional, not fan-forced, to keep the mixture intact) and line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper. If you have a non-stick silicone baking mat, that would be useful here.
3. Scoop up about a tablespoon of the mixture (I like to use a 15ml soup spoon) and drop onto the prepared baking tray, spacing each circle about 5cm apart. Dip your fingers in some cold water and gently tap each spoonful of mixture to spread it out to about an 8cm circle. Place the tray in the oven and bake for about 15-17 minutes or until the biscuits are a light golden-brown.
4. Remove biscuits from oven and allow them to firm up a little on the tray for about 2 minutes, then use a small metal spatula to transfer them onto a wire rack, and let them cool completely.
5. While the biscuits are cooling, melt the chocolate by placing it in a small bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (you could also use a microwave in short bursts, stirring gently in between). Using a butter knife or small spatula, spread a thin, even layer of the melted chocolate on the flat side of each biscuit and return to the rack, chocolate side up, to set before serving.
Note: For those celebrating Passover next week, being flourless, these biscuits make a wonderful sweet treat to have with coffee at the end of the traditional Seder meal.
*Switch up the spice if you don't like cardamom (caraway makes an uncommonly good pairing with chocolate) and substitute the barberries or sour cherries with currants, cranberries or candied ginger. Or leave those flourishes out altogether if you prefer an unadulterated nutty texture.