Cardamom “ugly but good”

Some friends of Francesco’s parents own a noccioleto, which is a walnut and hazelnut forest, where you can find lots of squirrels, dormice, gerbils, and so forth.
A few days ago they came to see us with a beautiful gift, a bagful (and it’s not a metaphor) of hazelnuts, just picked from their private paradise.

Therefore, I have the feeling that “I will be forced” to give out a lot of recipes made with this ingredient, hoping that no one here hates nuts :-)

Moreover, these cakes give me the opportunity to use part of the small bags of egg white, which I had placed in the fridge to freeze (I hate to throw away food).

This recipe is very simple and surely successful: you can check out cardamom here or here. I discovered it a few years ago, and I love its taste, which makes me think of oriental cuisine. I tried it everywhere, in coffee, desserts, rice, and each time I try it, there’s a different flavour, depending on the food it comes with; also, it gives me the feeling that everything is more digestible.

If you have the chance, try and buy whole capsules, then remove the seeds and grind it on the spot. Otherwise, use pure powder; however, keep in mind that the flavour will be much less intense, and that you must always close well the little jar and keep it in a dark and cool place.

If by any chance you don’t like cardamom, replace it with a pinch of vanilla. I recommend: don’t ever use the artificial essence, take the shell, or a jar of ground seeds.

70 grams hazelnuts
40 grams flour
90 grams sugar
the seed vanilla
1 egg white
a teaspoon of ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 200°C.
Shell the hazelnuts, put them on the plate of the oven (when it has reached the desired temperature), and let them roast for about ten minutes (or even less). They’ll be ready when a good scent comes around the oven and the skin detaches easily. Careful not to roast them too long, otherwise they’ll become too dark.
Take them out of the oven and wrap them in a cloth, rub them up to get rid of all the skin.

At this point, chop them roughly (I used a knife).
In a bowl, mix the chopped hazelnuts and the sugar. Incorporate the egg yolk, and then the sifted flour and the cardamom (sniff the scent!), without working too much the mixture.
At first it will seem that the ingredients are impossible to mix, however after a few minutes they will perfectly blend, as by magic!
Using a spoon, shape into little blobs of dough, leaving at least two or three centimetres from each other, on a baking tray covered with cooking sheet.
Cook 8-10 minutes, sit in front of the door and keep an eye on the oven window, as these sweets have a habit of suddenly burn. As soon as you see that the edges are beginning to darken slightly, take them out of the oven, and allow them to cool before removing them from the cooking sheet, as they will not be solid yet.

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