It’s January and while Christmas cookie season is officially over, some of us still need a treat before Valentine’s Day rolls around….
When I was offered samples of Almondina cookies I was happy to accept. I’m already a big fan of these crunchy cookie crisps with chewy bits of fruit. But I had no idea how many flavors there were. I have always bought the original version which has almonds and raisins. Like a very thin style of Italian biscotti, they are hard and crunchy but some have a chewy bit of fruit like raisins or cherries. They also come in a bran version that I think would be particularly good for breakfast. The spice versions of the cooke in cinnaroma, gingerspice and pumpkin spice are all great, so are the chocolate ones, and still only about 100 calories for 3.
Almondina cookies are perfect for those who are trying to eat healthier. They are so low in sugar, they actually make a very good cookie to add to a cheese plate. There is no butter or oil in the base recipe, so the only fat in the cookies comes from nuts, seeds or grains. I highly recommend them.
Another treat this month has got to be King cake. It is associated with Epiphany and Christmas in Europe and is a Mardi Gras specialty in the Gulf states. Generally speaking, it’s one of the most garish looking cakes I’ve ever seen.
Sadly many versions of it are not very good, but the version from SucrÃ© in New Orleans is worth seeking out and easily available by mail order. First of all it’s quite pretty compared to the usual cakes splashed with gobs of white icing and plenty of gold, green and purple sparkles. It has a subdued shine and sheen. But best of all, it is not mushy and bland as some King cakes are, but is a delicate coffeecake with a restrained swirl of cinnamon and traces of cream cheese. Perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.
My thanks to both Almondina and Sucre Bakery for sending me samples.