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On Time & Toast | Whipped Ricotta Toasts

On Time & Toast | Whipped Ricotta Toasts

Whipped Ricotta Toasts | Delightful CrumbThis year has been moving quickly over here in my corner, but I’ve struggled to put my finger on why. I often mark seasons with trips, visitors and big events, and I’ve had few of these so far. The weather has been strange, slipping into warm spring temperatures for a day or two, then back to clouds and rain. People with kids often say that time moves more quickly when there’s a growing little one who physically marks the passage of time. While I have no doubt that this is true, I’m beginning to suspect that our experience of time also begins to shift around the ages and life stages when many have children. I imagine it has something to do with being several years from school or academia, accustomed to the routines of work, used to the way the week ebbs and flows, weekends like a rising tide.

I can’t say I’m comfortable with this sensation. I want to catch time, wrap my hands around my life and stare at it, see it, just for a moment, keep it from slipping through my fingers. And yet. We all know this is impossible.

More possible, though, is leaning into the moments that we do have, celebrating and enjoying time rather than seeing it as something we’re losing. And that, my friends, leads us to dinner.

We all have to eat, but dinner can be stressful and far from a joy. At the end of a long day or week, it sometimes feels like just one more thing to do. As for me, I generally enjoy making dinner and certainly relish the act of eating it, but the very idea of cleaning up can be too much to bear if I’m feeling weary.

Enter toast.

It’s no secret that I love a good slab of toast—and more specifically, a good slab of ricotta toast. But can you really blame me? It’s the easiest hack I know for making a dinner feel special, whether it’s the appetizer for a festive gathering or the main event for a quiet weekend dinner that I want to make special without too much effort. This version is one of my simplest yet. The ricotta preparation comes from the “Go-To Recipes” section that opens Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons. It’s a brilliant book all around, and there are lots of secrets tucked into this early chapter, building blocks to have at hand for easy, beautiful meals.

The first time I made whipped ricotta, I topped the toasts with a mixture of thinly sliced snap peas combined with lots of herbs, lemon and pistachios. That was lovely (and a little something like this—which strangely, serendipitously, comes with musings from two years back that have much to do with what I’ve said above). But the ricotta is luxurious enough on its own that I thought it deserved to star, as it does in the following recipe, in an even simpler preparation. Here, I suggest just flaky salt, cracked pepper and chives or another soft herb. You could also add chopped toasted nuts, a thicker layer of herbs, thinly sliced radishes, ribbons of zucchini or cucumber, that fancy salt lingering in your cupboard or slices of ripe tomato as soon as they hit the markets. Ultimately, the ricotta is rich and flavorful enough that it’s best to use simple, light toppings—or none at all.

As for other uses for the whipped ricotta, the possibilities are endless. Swipe it on a large platter before topping with any sort of salad. It would be lovely with thinly sliced fennel and radishes, roasted carrots or sweet potato topped with toasted nuts and/or seeds, a tumble of tomatoes with basil, a simple leafy salad. Add a dollop to liven up a green, lentil or grain-based salad at lunchtime. Use it as a rich dip for raw vegetables and thin toasts. I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finding ways to use this up!

But most importantly, relish it. Take an extra minute as you assemble dinner to rest in the goodness of the nourishing food on your table and the loved ones with whom you eat. When you sit down at the table, savor a bite to remind yourself you’re here, in the midst of your life—which is meaningful whether it feels that way or not. We do well not to miss the simple glory of being alive.

Whipped Ricotta Toasts | Delightful Crumb

Whipped Ricotta Toasts

Ricotta recipe adapted from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons

12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) whole-milk ricotta cheese (I like Bellwether Farms ricotta, which is conveniently packaged in this amount)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Zest of 1 lemon, optional

3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional

Sourdough bread

Flaky sea salt

Chives (or another soft herb), minced, optional

First, make the ricotta. Put the ricotta, salt, about 20 twists of pepper and the lemon zest, if using, in a food processor. Start to process. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil. Pause to scrape down the sides of the food processor and to taste the mixture. You want the flavor of the olive oil to come through. Adjust to taste with more salt, pepper or olive oil, then process again. When the ricotta tastes delicious and is silky smooth, scrape it into a bowl and set aside.

Then, toast the bread. Cut slices about one inch thick; halve them if very large or if appropriate for how you’d like to serve the toasts. In a cast iron or other heavy skillet, warm a generous pour of olive oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry the bread in the skillet until it is dark brown, a couple of minutes per side, working in batches if necessary. Place the toast on a baking sheet to cool slightly, layering it with a paper towel if there’s any excess oil. Sprinkle with salt.

When the bread is cool enough to handle, top each slice with a generous sweep of the whipped ricotta. Finish with flaky sea salt, plenty of freshly cracked pepper and chives.

Leftover ricotta can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Hello, Spring! | Asparagus Four Ways

Hello, Spring! | Asparagus Four Ways

Asparagus 4 Ways | Delightful CrumbSpring, for me, is when food feels most profound. The produce that emerges at this time of year is vibrant and bright, a burst of freshness, perfectly reflective of the emotional state that we find ourselves in after a cold, rainy and/or snowy winter. The idea of life emerging from the earth is pronounced after a winter of root vegetables and rock-hard squash and cellared apples and hearty greens that withstood the chill. It’s not such a stretch of the imagination that those could be pulled from the earth, but the produce of springtime? It seems miraculous. Here, now, are these most delicate leaves and shoots, berries on their heels, herbs that demand careful handling, life that reminds you in the palest green of its newness.


Recently, a friend who is in the midst of an excruciatingly difficult time asked a question about how, actually, one trusts—in this context, in God, but you can apply the concept regardless of what sort of divine being you do or don’t believe in. Cliches aside, what does that really look like? What do you do? The question stopped me in my tracks. It is an essential question, one that I, too, have asked in the darkest seasons of my life. And when others suffer, when hope feels slim, when the world looks more fierce than kind, I find myself asking it again—because of course I haven’t found an easy answer.

While catchphrases might be tempting in brighter days, when we are actually in the thick of it, we are very aware that whatever the answers might be, they surely are not simple. As for me, I have touch points and tools and routines. I have people and words I can lean on. These things resemble an answer. But especially in the bleakest of times, I think that trust, in its simplest form, looks like waking up each day and getting out of bed and carrying on anyway. It is as hard and as easy as this.


Spring reminds me that hope is not in vain. An answer, some sort of resolution—whether or not it’s the one I hoped for—will always come. Life emerges. The cycle continues. Winter might last for a really, really, really long time, but spring always comes.


Though we have no such thing as snow here in my part of Northern California, springtime has been slow to arrive this year, and I grew weary of March’s incessant rain and the draftiness of my apartment. Most of the springtime produce is yet to come, hiding in the ground since it’s been colder here than usual, but when asparagus appeared at the market a couple weeks back, I knew spring was on the horizon. Here are four ways to prepare it as we wait for the sun, springtime, Sunday morning. Wishing you hope this Easter and springtime.

Four Ways with Asparagus

RAW

Sliced or shaved thin, raw asparagus is a delicious thing. Trim or snap off the woody ends, then use a y-peeler to make ribbons (I find this easiest if I put the asparagus along the edge of the cutting board so there’s some wiggle room between the peeler and the countertop on one side), or slice in thin coins (1/4 inch thick at most). Add raw asparagus to salads, put it on toast rubbed with garlic and topped with ricotta or goat cheese, or throw it on a pizza before baking. Or, serve it as a little salad on its own, tossed with a dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice or red wine vinegar, a dab of mustard, salt and pepper. Feta and/or toasted pepitas would be a nice addition here, too.

BLANCHED

Often overlooked, blanching or boiling vegetables can yield a lovely result, particularly when the subject is at its freshest. Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot (or a sauté pan deep enough to hold a couple inches of water). Trim the ends of the asparagus, and either keep whole (the prettiest presentation) or slice on a bias into 1- or 2-inch pieces. Place the asparagus in the boiling water. Cook for just 1 to 3 minutes, until bright green, then drain in a colander. Finish simply with good olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, flaky salt and freshly cracked pepper. A few soft herbs are an excellent addition (pictured). Or, take it a step further: chop a big handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, mint and/or chives. Place in a small bowl and pour in olive oil to cover. Add the zest and juice of a lemon and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Optional additions include chopped capers, chopped toasted almonds or pistachios and/or finely grated Parmesan. Spoon this mixture over the asparagus for an elegant, brightly flavored dish.

SAUTEED

Classic but delicious. Trim the ends of the asparagus and either keep whole (a little unwieldy but totally doable) or slice into 1- or 2-inch pieces. Warm olive oil or butter in a large sauté pan. Add the asparagus and sauté for a few minutes, anywhere from 3 to 10 depending on your preference. Toss in minced garlic and/or red pepper flakes for the last minute of cooking if you’d like. A squeeze of lemon is a nice way to finish; salt and pepper are essential. This is lovely alongside scrambled eggs.

ROASTED

Could a side dish be any easier?! Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss trimmed whole or sliced asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for about 15 minutes, until the asparagus is tender and lightly browned or burnished, to your preference. You could also add red pepper flakes, garlic (though this is slightly risky as it can burn at high heat), lemon zest or Parmesan before baking, or top the roasted asparagus with breadcrumbs and/or Parmesan, Feta or goat cheese.

Cake Is The Remedy | German Marble Cake

Cake Is The Remedy | German Marble Cake

Marble Cake | Delightful CrumbI am here today to talk about cake. Because cake, if you ask me, is essential. Life is hard and busy and often confusing; the pockets of calm and perfect clarity are rare and short lived. Though the temptation is persistent, I’m determined not to wait for vacations and date nights and holidays and the achievement of lofty goals to enjoy life. We need routine and everyday life to sparkle, too.

Enter cake, preferably during the day. My love of simple cakes is well and thoroughly documented, so perhaps you could wonder what more I might have to say. Forgive any repetition, but here I go again.

In my opinion, afternoon is the ideal time for cake. In many other countries, they understand this, but here in America, we lag behind. Sure, I love to have something sweet at night, but I usually reach for dark chocolate, dates, citrus in winter, berries in summer. At this point, I certainly hope to be satiated from dinner. In the afternoon, however, when one is feeling peckish, deep into the day’s work, perhaps desperate for a break, in need of something warm and/or caffeinated, cake is the remedy.

I’m trying to be more intentional about both rest and inviting people into my home this year. I’ve never been good at pausing from work and to-do lists but know this is an essential practice, one I’d regret not cultivating. And as for the latter, I love hosting and cooking for others, and it brings me tremendous joy, but I too easily hesitate—I don’t have time to tidy up, I should make an elaborate meal, I want to plan ahead, I have other things to do. But these are rather silly excuses in the face of something joyful, life-giving, communal.

And so, I’ve been inspired to host friends for Sunday afternoon cake. Not only does this involve both rest and hosting, but it also has the benefit of not necessarily lasting all night—because the truth is that sometimes we do not have time for six-hour dinner parties, and also some of us do not have dishwashers.

There is much talk of cake in Luisa Weiss‘ lovely book, Classic German BakingGermans understand the importance of cake. They even have a name for the afternoon coffee break, God bless them: Kaffeezeit, or “coffee time,” where cake plays a starring role. All of this makes me very proud of my German heritage, and perhaps explains something about this obsession.

I thought my Sunday afternoon cake idea was quite clever, but then, as I sat down to write this post, thoughts organized and cake baked, I flipped through Luisa’s book and stumbled across this paragraph: “For Germans, the next step to getting to know others isn’t getting together at home for cocktails, like in France, or for dinner, like in the United States, but inviting them over for cake and coffee on a weekend afternoon.”

WELL! Apparently, this whole cake thing runs deep in my German blood. Or rather, it has married with the bit of British in me, and the collision of tea time and Kaffeezeit has created something unstoppable.

I did know enough about German tradition to turn to Luisa’s book—which is full of gorgeous simple cakes—when I decided that I wanted to instate a Sunday afternoon cake tradition. Way back in 2015, I tested some recipes for Luisa while she was working on this cookbook. One was her Gugelhupf cake, and I’ve wanted its namesake pan ever since. A couple of weeks ago, full of weekend cake fervor, I ordered one and went straight to this marble cake. I love its dramatic peaks and swirls, its heartiness and restrained sweetness and glorious crumble.

We ate this on a Sunday afternoon with dear friends, passing around their baby as the sun sank down, lingering long enough to pop open a bottle of pink bubbles, rested and happy and full.

Marble Cake | Delightful Crumb

Marmorkuchen (Marble Cake)

From Luisa Weiss’ Classic German Baking

Makes 1 (9-inch) cake

The mention of white chocolate made me hesitate, but Luisa explains in the headnote that this doesn’t make the cake taste of white chocolate but instead adds a richer, toastier quality to the white cake—I found this to be true. I am a bit of a novice at swirling marble cakes, but I think it’s actually rather hard to make a mess of this, so don’t worry too much.

This cake benefits from a rest, so you can make it one day before serving if you like. Leftovers will keep, wrapped tightly in plastic, for three days at room temperature.

3 1/2 ounces (100 g) bittersweet chocolate (minimum 50% cacao), chopped

3 1/2 ounces (100 g) white chocolate, chopped

18 tablespoons (250 g) unsalted high-fat, European-style butter, softened, plus more for the pan

1 1/4 cups (250 g) cane sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs, at room temperature

2 cups scooped and leveled (250 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

3 tablespoons whole milk

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, placing the rack on the bottom third of the oven.

Generously butter and flour a 9-inch Gugelhupf or Bundt pan.

Put the bittersweet and white chocolates into two separate heatproof bowls that can be set over a small saucepan of simmering water. Melt the chocolates, one bowl at a time, over gently simmering water. (You can also melt the chocolates in the microwave.) Set aside to cool.

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment. Add the sugar and salt and beat until light and fluffy. (Alternately, a handheld mixer will work just fine here.) Beat in the vanilla extract and then the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition, until the mixture is well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Beat the flour into the butter mixture. Then, scrape out two-thirds of the batter and place in a medium bowl. Stir the melted white chocolate into this larger batch of batter until no streaks remain.

Add the melted bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder, and milk to the remaining one-third of the batter, beating until fully combined.

Scrape half of the white batter into the prepared pan. Top with the bittersweet batter, then the remaining white batter. Using swooping motions, drag the blade of a knife through the batter to create a marbled cake. Smooth the top with an offset spatula.

Place the pan in the oven and bake until the white part of the cake is golden and a tester comes out clean. This will take about 60 minutes in a Gugelhupf pan but closer to 45 minutes in a Bundt pan.

Place the pan on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before unmolding the cake onto the rack. When the cake has cooled completely, dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, and serve.

Avocado, Citrus & Fennel Salad for Winter

Avocado, Citrus & Fennel Salad for Winter

Avocado Citrus Salad | Delightful CrumbWinter in California will always feel like spring to me, because it feels like spring in the Midwest—my home, the place whose rhythms beat in my chest no matter where I go. It’s not just because we go back to Michigan for the holidays and this is the very welcome weather we return to in January. It surely has something to do with the rain. But more than anything else, it’s an unnamed quality, something in the air, that fresh scent paired with the green grass and the warmth of the sun, all bundled up into something I can describe but never name.

And spring in the Midwest feels like hope. Everyone who’s lived in a cold place knows what I mean. It’s the relief of winter ending, of the snow melting and the seasons turning and the sun reemerging, one more time, just as it always does right when you’re about to abandon hope.

But if, perhaps, it comes in January rather than March or April, this sensation is compounded by the spirit of the new year. Intentions and resolutions and all of that hoopla—I love it unabashedly and unironically. The whole thing is cranked up a notch when it also feels like springtime to my soul. But this year, I spent much of January sick, with that nasty flu virus it seems everyone has, and I’m finally reemerging into the glorious world where there are such things as fresh citrus and sunlight and people, gosh darn it! I actually have the energy that one might apply, for example, to a renewed yoga practice! So I’m really leaning into the whole thing right now.

Yet the feeling of spring in January feels like cheating, to be honest, even five-plus years into California living. I’ve not withstood nearly enough to get that boost of light and hope! My compatriots across the country are still digging cars out of snowbanks and bundling against the chill and paying those high heating bills and so much more, building that unmatched Midwestern resilience. I try to just be grateful, and channel all of the springtime vibes I can gather to those of you still in the dark of winter.

Enter this salad.

That winter is the season of citrus and avocados has always seemed so right to me. The vibrant oranges and reds and pinks and yellows of grapefruits and pomelos and oranges and tangerines, their brilliantly bright flavor, the comforting richness of avocado, the way its fat balances out all of that acid: this is my favorite winter combination. Sometimes I keep it at just those two ingredients, topped with good olive oil and flaky salt. But more often, I expand the concept slightly to what follows, bulking up the salad with fennel and layering flavor with toasty nuts or seeds, the spice of pepper and barely pickled onion. This is a formula salad, the sort of thing that takes well to adjustments and improvisation. Leave something out, or follow your impulses to add another dimension. But regardless, let it brighten up your days, like sunshine, like hope, like the coming change of the seasons and perhaps even the reminder of home.

Avocado Citrus Salad | Delightful Crumb

Winter Salad of Avocado, Citrus & Fennel

Serves about 4 but scales up or down easily

1 small red onion or shallot

Red or white wine vinegar

Fine salt

1 bulb fennel

2-3 pieces of citrus, preferably different types; I like to vary both size and color if I can (e.g., orange, cara cara orange, blood orange, tangerine, grapefruit, pomelo…)

1 avocado

Olive oil

Large handful toasted pepitas, sunflower seeds or sliced almonds

Small bunch of parsley, or another soft herb, leaves picked

Pomegranate seeds (optional)

Aleppo pepper (optional)

Flaky sea salt

Freshly cracked pepper

Thinly slice the red onion or shallot. If using a red onion, first cut it in half, then slice it into half moons. Put the slices into a small bowl, then pour in enough vinegar to pool at the bottom of the bowl. Add a big pinch of salt, then massage the onion and vinegar. Leave to pickle slightly.

Remove the fennel fronds if they’re still attached to the bulb, reserving some for garnish. Halve the fennel bulb lengthwise, remove the core and thinly slice lengthwise. A mandoline slicer works well here, though it’s not necessary.

Peel and slice the citrus however you’d like. If you have time and the inclination, you can supreme them, but I usually don’t. Usually, I simply remove the peel and pith, then slice each fruit into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Reserve the juices that pool on the cutting board, as best you can. Halve the avocado, then cut each half into slices.

On a large platter, arrange the fennel, citrus and avocado. Sprinkle the onion or shallot slices over top. (If you don’t need all of them, save the leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a few days to liven up other salads and the like.) Drizzle generously with olive oil, the vinegar from pickling the onion and the reserved citrus juices.

Sprinkle the nuts/seeds, parsley and pomegranate seeds, if using, over top. Use plenty of toppings, but also make sure to leave the salad below visible. Finish with the Aleppo pepper, if using, plenty of flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Avocado Citrus Salad | Delightful Crumb

Speculoos & Cookbooks for Gifting

Speculoos & Cookbooks for Gifting

Speculoos | Delightful CrumbHello friends, and merry Christmastime! We are in the season of festivity, and I am loving it, as I am wont to do, from baking cookies to shopping for gifts to catching up with friends over drinks. And every day as I work, tucked between my space heater and little twinkling Christmas tree, I am grateful for the extra bit of cheer.

I’m popping by today with a list of favorite cookbooks that would make for mighty fine gifts, plus a cookie recipe that would serve you as either a gift or a treat for well-deserving you.

First, the cookbooks! My list is limited to cookbooks published this year, as I needed some sort of criteria to reign myself in, and have chosen only 10. There are many more that could have made the list, of course, including some I’m hoping Santa will bring to me, but hopefully this gives someone out there an idea or two. As a baseline, these all have the essentials: a strong and encouraging voice, well-tested recipes and good design.

Sweet, by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh: For the baking enthusiast, or Ottolenghi enthusiast, in your life.

Dining In, by Allison Roman: For your fun sister-in-law who likes such things as red nail polish, witty writing, savory breakfasts, lemons and fresh kitchen inspiration.

Six Seasons, by Joshua McFadden: For the produce lover who makes it to the market rain or shine.

Cherry Bombe: The Cookbookby Kerry Diamond: For all the badass ladies you know. Toss in a subscription to the magazine to really take it over the top.

Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat: For a cook of any skill level who wants to understand exactly how things work (plus illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton!).

Tartine All Dayby Elisabeth Prueitt: For the gluten-free pal you are always forgetting is gluten intolerant, or for anyone who loves fresh California fare.

Feed the Resistanceby Julia Turshen: For the activist who’s always gathering friends around her table.

Dinner: Changing the Gameby Melissa Clark: For the parents who need some encouragement in the daily grind of dinner.

Brave Tart, by Stella Parks: For the baker who loves Americana.

Short Stack Editions (fun little cookbooks organized around an ingredient): For hosts or coworkers, or for that stocking you’re stuffing. Dorie Greenspan has written a new one on butter; I have no doubt it’s amazing.

And now, holiday treats, from the first cookbook on my list. I’m well past my Ottolenghi blogging quota for this quarter, but apparently I don’t care…

Speculoos (or speculaas) cookies are common in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. They are thin and crunchy, made with a blend of warm spices and typically stamped with an image on the front. I encountered them first in West Michigan, where packaged windmill cookies are easy to find even at the big grocery chains. My Dutch friends were enthusiastic about them, but I didn’t quite understand the hype. Out here in the Bay Area, though, I met Evy Ballegeer, who owns the speculoos cookie business Little Belgians. Her cookies are cute, crisp and delicious, and she is a lovely human. I loved her and those cookies immediately. So did Ben. As someone of Dutch descent, he did have a soft spot for the packaged windmills, and Evy’s rendition is even better.

I’ve long wanted to revive some Dutch recipes for our yearly Christmas cookie rotation (my family is big on tradition, so my side is sufficiently covered in this regard). This became especially true after I was charmed by the Netherlands on our vacation this summer. So when I saw Ottolenghi’s recipe for speculoos biscuits in his new cookbook, Sweet, I knew they’d have to make it to the table this season. They’re delicious with a cup of coffee or your evening tea, and I bet they’d be lovely next to ice cream, too, as the recipe headnote suggests.

(Alternately, if you don’t feel like baking, just order cookies from Evy! They are fantastic, and she even makes a striking, 10 inch-tall Saint Nick for the holidays.)

May you and yours be cozy, safe and full of joy this holiday season.

Simple Speculoos Biscuits

From Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s Sweet

Note that instead of making the spice mix, you can buy it at certain well-stocked stores. But if you can get all of the spices and spare a little time, this will serve you for a few batches of cookies. Save what’s left from this recipe in a tightly sealed container.

You can make this dough ahead of time and keep it in the freezer until you’re ready to bake, or you can make half while freezing the rest for your future self.

Makes about 60 to 70 cookies

FOR THE SPICE MIX

Mix together:

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground aniseed

3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

FOR THE COOKIES

3 2/3 cups (450 grams) all-purpose flour

3 1/2 teaspoons spice mix (recipe above)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (250 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 3/4 packed cups (330 grams) dark brown sugar

3 1/2 tablespoons (50 ml) dark rum or brandy

1 large egg white, lightly beaten until frothy

1 cup (100 grams) sliced almonds

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, spice mix, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer). Beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the rum or brandy and beat until inforporated. Add the dry ingredients and continue to beat on low speed. The dough will likely be difficult and dry, but it will come together eventually.

Tip the dough onto a clean work surface and knead lightly to bring together. Divide into two pieces, cover each loosely with plastic wrap, then press down to form flat disks. Transfer to the fridge for about 30 minutes. You can also freeze the dough at this point.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until it’s just under 1/2 inch (0.5 cm) thick. Using a 2 1/2- or 3-inch round cookie cutter (or whatever size and shape you like), cut out biscuits and move them to the baking sheets, with a little over a half inch between cookies. Reroll the scraps to cut more biscuits. When the baking sheets are full, use a pastry brush to lightly paint a thin layer of egg white over each biscuit, then sprinkle with the sliced almonds. You may need to repeat this with additional baking sheets, depending on the size of your pans and the cookies.

Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the sheets once, until the cookies are deep golden brown and the almonds toasted. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes on the baking sheets for the biscuits to cool slightly, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

In an airtight container, the cookies should keep for about a week.