The church biscuit: 92 Sour cherry pistachio amaretti

Sour cherry pistachio amaretti  (an Ottolenghi recipe from, I think The Cookbook)

Sour cherry pistachio amaretti (an Ottolenghi recipe from, I think The Cookbook)

Although the vicar has formally retired, we do have people dropping in to say final goodbyes, so the church biscuit is still nice to have to offer. I was going to make Nigella’s Pistachio Crescents (from How to Eat, Chatto and Windus, 1999) but after a recent problem with another of her biscuit recipes (of which more in a future post), I decided to take the pistachio idea and marry it with an Ottolenghi recipe for Sour Cherry Amaretti which were fantastic when I made them previously. Ottolenghi’s recipe calls for lemon zest but (exactly as happened before) the vicarage kitchen didn’t have a decent lemon, so – also as before – I turned to a little chopped mixed peel. Of thee 180 g of ground nuts required by the recipe, I used 100g pistachios, to 80g ground almonds. (I ground the pistachios in a well-cleaned coffee grinder).  The pistachio flavour was paramount but you could play around with the relative proportions  if the fancy took you.

Sour cherry pistachio amaretti  (an Ottolenghi recipe from, I think The Cookbook)

Sour cherry pistachio amaretti (an Ottolenghi recipe from, I think The Cookbook)


100 g ground pistachios

80 g ground almonds

120 g golden caster sugar

1 teasp chopped mixed peel

60 g dried sour cherries

2 egg whites from large eggs

1 teasp of warmed honey

icing sugar to dust the amaretti both before and after cooking 

Preheat the oven to 170° C/ 150 °C for a fan oven/325 ° F/gas mark 3

Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.

Put the ground almonds, caster sugar and chopped mixed peel in a bowl and mix together. Add the sour cherries. (You could chop these more,  I left them halved.)

In another bowl whisk up the egg whites and the honey until soft peaks. Fold this mixture into the dry ingredients in the other bowl until a paste forms. Gather into a ball (dusting hands with ground almonds if sticky).

Pinch off walnut sized pieces of the paste, roll them into sausages and drop them in a bowl of sifted icing sugar. Put them on a baking sheet, flattening them slightly and pinching the top into a ridge.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, turning the trays around half way through to cook evenly.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. While still hot, sift a little more icing sugar over them.

Makes about 30 little amaretti. Superb.

Under the biscuits, an empty plate - Coalport with hand painted flowers

Under the biscuits, an empty plate – Coalport with hand painted flowers

The cat came in with a non-fledged blue tit, so she received the eye contact of displeasure and the turned back treatment of disapproval (practising for the toddler).

Empathy for blue tits is high as we are still recovering from  last week’s Spring watch where a mother blue tit, having successfully reared a nest full of 4 great tit chicks to near fledging standard came home to find 3 missing – picked off by an observant jay as they poked their heads out of their nesting box preparatory to their first flight. (Please don’t ask why she was rearing great tit chicks – possibly a cuckoo thing – the more we seem to discover about the wild world the more complicated it seems to be!). The final chick retreated to the top of the nesting box in a state of some stress. Having just seen the spring’s final episode, I can happily revealed No 4 is still alive.

Possibly even worse was the stoat attack on the woodpecker’s nest, where a mother stoat  climbedsome 30′ up a tree, disappeared into a hole in the tree and reappeared with,  one by one,  the 3 – or was it 4 – chicks.

We were relieved that this year the owls are doing better and – so far – have more food, so that as yet no owl chick has been edged into starvation and ultimately the subject of cannibalism by its stronger siblings.

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  1. Posted June 17, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    When they talk about “Nature, red in tooth and claw”, they’re absolutely right, aren’t they!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted June 18, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Watching Springwatch has shown me this is more true than I ever fully realised!

  2. Jane fron Dorset
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Biscuits sound very tempting but where does one obtain sour cherries in rural Dorset I wonder?
    Off to London for yet another meeting next week so could look for them while I am staying with daughter#2 if pointed in the right direction.
    I do hope you will gather all these recipes into a book when you have recovered from the move.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted June 18, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Waitrose usually have some – if that’s any help – though it’s probably only the bigger stores. If I think of anywhere else, I’ll let you know. (Glacé cherries work, but use fewer, cut them smaller and remember how very sweet they are. Dried sour cherries are definitely more subtle in flavour). In future, I am hoping to write some sort of memoir based church biscuit book.

      • Jane fron Dorset
        Posted June 19, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Mary, posh Waitrose in The Barbican and M&S in the City Road just round the corner from daughter so stand a good chance.

        • Mary Addison
          Posted June 19, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

          Well, you’re almost certain to find somewhere round there selling them – buy a few packets if you do as they really have a much more subtle cherry flavour than their glacé cousins. Best of luck.

          • Jane fron Dorset
            Posted June 26, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

            Drew a complete blank in The City, but ventured over the county boundary for a visit to Salisbury last night and found a Sainsbury next to the car park, Cherries purchased!

          • Mary Addison
            Posted June 26, 2016 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

            Well done! It can be so frustrating when you really want to try a recipe with a specific ingredient but that ingredient is nowhere to be found. Hope the biscuits are up to expectations,Jane.

  3. Posted July 8, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Gosh, we don’t watch Springwatch, but by the sound of things I would have to be braced by a good strong cup of tea before sitting down to watch! X

    • Mary Addison
      Posted July 8, 2016 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it was rather dramatic. We did feel for the mother birds coming home to an empty nest. We also looked quizzically at the cat and wondered how many bird deaths we can justifiably blame on her and her kind – at least she doesn’t invade the sacred territory of the nest which she couldn’t as her head is bigger than the stoat’s!

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