Elio’s in Barton-upon-Humber has been shut for at least four years, but I can still, in my mind, walk through the door of this north Lincolnshire restaurant as it was 30 years ago and take a seat under the crab-net decoration. It was a place where a bottle was ready to pour the moment you took a seat, where “more spice” would graciously be added to my Ugandan-Indian father’s order and where the amaretti were freely handed around with glasses of limoncello. These days, Elio’s is more of a spirit than a physical place, but it’s one that I can bring back occasionally by making and sharing these soft biscuits.
Soft amaretti biscuits
I’ve designed this recipe around using the aquafaba from a tin of chickpeas instead of egg whites (panic not, they don’t add any chickpea flavour). If you don’t have an immediate use for the drained chickpeas, freeze them for later. You’ll need an electric whisk.
Prep 5 min Cook 45 min Makes About 22 Keep 1 week+
300g ground almonds 175g caster sugar ¼ tsp fine sea salt 120ml aquafaba, from 1 x400g tin chickpeas Zest of 1 lemon 1 tsp vanilla paste 50g icing sugar, for rolling
In a large bowl, whisk the almonds, sugar and salt. In a second bowl, and using an electric whisk, whip the aquafaba for eight to 10 minutes, until it forms semi-stiff peaks.
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 and line two oven trays with baking paper (mine’s reusable). Gently fold the aquafaba, lemon zest and vanilla into the almond mix.
Now set up a biscuit rolling station: shake the icing sugar into a shallow bowl or lipped plate, and put the dough to one side of it and the trays to the other.
Pinch off a walnut-sized, 25-30g piece of the biscuit mixture, gently roll it into a ball, then put in the icing sugar and repeat until you have about six in the bowl. Keeping the bowl on the countertop, gently shuffle it around in a circular motion so the amaretti roll around and get covered in a thick coat of icing sugar. Carefully place them 10cm apart on one baking tray, and repeat until you’ve used up all the dough.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the amaretti are golden on top, then remove and set aside to cool.
The biscuits will keep for at least a week in an airtight container. To wrap, put them in a gift box of your choice and tie with ribbon.