Thursday, May 28, 2009

Italian Almond Fingers

My current read is a small bright orange paperback published back in March last year and written by some guy named Steve Ettlinger. It's called "Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated into What America Eats". Each of the 25 plus chapters delves into the origins of sometimes surprisingly commonplace ingredients, other not so commonplace or at least recognisable substances ranging from anthocyanins to deltadodecalactone, methyl ethyl ketone and xanthan gum, and the generic processes by which they are all magically transformed by human intervention into totally edible ingredients which are now widely used in processing plants all around the world.

It's an educative and quite enjoyable read (I mean who knew that the highly explosive element chlorine with which we use to disinfect water and to make plastic pipes is also pumped into flour for its bleaching action, mimicking the natural albeit much slower process of aging and oxidation?). If you have been at some stage engrossed by other books such as "The Taste of Sweet", "Moveable Feasts" or "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles", then "Twinkie, Deconstructed" is one that you will most certainly appreciate.

These almond fingers or ditti di mandorle as they are known in Italian, hide a bounty of strangely processed ingredients like almonds, eggs and butter (shock! horror!). This is a recipe staight out of Gina De Palma's "Dolce Italiano: Desserts From the Babbo Kitchen" which works a real treat.

Italian Almond Fingers
from "Dolce Italiano" by Gina De Palma
250 g unsalted butter, chopped
125 g castor sugar
3 g salt
1 lemon, zested
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
1 egg, separated
250 g flour
80 g almond meal
1 g baking

200 g sliced blanched almonds
icing sugar for dusting
In an electric mixer with paddle attachment beat butter, sugar, salt, lemon zest and vanilla seeds until creamed.
Add egg yolk and beat until thick.
Combine flour, almond meal and baking powder in a bowl.
Mix thoroughly into butter.
Divide dough into 3 equal pieces.
Roll each on a floured bench into logs about 2 cm thick.
Cut logs into pieces 5 cm long.
Brush each log in lightly beaten egg white and coat with sliced almonds.
Bake on a lined tray at 165ÂșC for 16 minutes or until golden.
Cool on tray and serve dusted with icing sugar.


  1. None of these ingredients sound particularly spooky - in fact they sound tasty! Your book sounds very interesting. Some of the ingredients have obvious organic chemistry type names, but things like bleaching flour get past the radar more easily.

  2. I like the sound of that book. Will you lend it to me when you're finished? :)

  3. it was tasty, very tasty indeed!

    and of course Y! sharing is caring :P

  4. Dear Cathy,
    please check the comments for "A midnight Snack" (Banana oats)


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