This morning, I had the pleasure of tasting an exceptional Ratafia de Bourgogne (a sweet red wine from Burgundy – see note below). It’s a fortified wine, and this particular ratafia was one of 300 bottles made in a small vineyard, laced with the owner’s own marc de Bourgogne, or distilled eau de vie. As I chatted with the wine merchant, I remembered that in Regency and Victorian novels, ratafia was reserved for the ladies to sip from tiny crystal glasses at tea-time, along with ratafia biscuits. So of course I had to look up ratafia biscuits: they are the Scottish equivalent of Italian amaretti, which are generally made with Amaretto liqueur.
These sweet biscuits are very easy to make, especially if you have an icing or pastry bag with a plain tip. They are low-carb, gluten-free, and dairy-free, and can be made vegan if you replace the egg whites with ‘flax eggs’ or aquafaba, the liquid from tinned chickpeas.
2 large egg whites OR 3-4 Tbsp aquafaba
1 generous cup finely ground almond flour – this would be about 5 oz or 100g
¾ cup (150g) caster sugar (superfine baking sugar)
½ tsp almond extract
Optional: a drop of Amaretto, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 11” x 17” cookie sheet or flat baking pan with parchment paper.
2. Using the NutriBullet, grind the almonds as finely as possible, or use commercial almond flour.
3. Whisk the egg whites in a medium bowl until foaming but not forming peaks.
4. Add the sugar and almond flour; beat until well mixed. Stir in the almond extract and (if used) the Amaretto. The mixture should form a thick paste. If too sloppy, add a bit more almond flour.
5. Spoon this mixture into an icing or pastry bag with a ⅓” or 1 cm round nozzle. Pipe circles of the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet, about two inches apart. It works best if the biscuits are about ¾” across.
6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10-12 minutes, then check if done; the biscuits should be pale golden brown around the edges, with a matte texture on top.
7. Move the biscuits (still on the parchment) to a wire rack and allow to cool.
8. Store at room temperature in a airtight container, or covered tightly with plastic wrap. Use in trifle, or serve with coffee and/or a digestif such as ratafia!
Note: Ratafia de Bourgogne is composed of one third marc de Bourgogne and two-thirds fresh unfermented grape juice. The grape juice is left exposed to ferment very slowly, and then at the right moment, the marc is added to halt fermentation. The result is distilled to 16.5%. Typically, the rose or golden-colored Ratafia has notes of walnuts, hazelnuts, honey, and raisins. On the palate, it has a smooth, soft, and well-balanced character. It’s somewhat like a softer, lighter version of oloroso sherry.
Here is the printable file for Ratafia Biscuits.