The 1st December marks a very special day in Auckland’s Christmas calendar. On this auspicious evening every year just as dusk turns to dark in one of our central city streets, a row of houses light up with the spirit of Christmas. Draped in curtains of Christmas lights these houses are transformed and it is impossible not to be overcome with Christmas cheer. An influx of cars brings traffic to a standstill and as crowds gather and the street fills, the sound of laughter fills the humid summer air.
For us here in New Zealand Christmas is synonymous with summer. It is warm and humid and weather permitting we move outside to the shade of Mum’s garden for our late Christmas lunch. Our menu is ever-changing and Christmas ham is the most traditional item ever to feature. Desserts are numerous and this year, pre-empting the post lunch coffees I will make on Mum’s new coffee machine, I am going to make and serve these sweet little almond drops.
As well a making up a batch for Christmas day, I thought I would also make some to give as presents. Boxed and tied up with a red ribbon I think they will make gorgeous Christmas gifts. I am going to play round with the recipe too as I think you could make beautiful rose, vanilla or lemon flavoured variations. If you cannot find the little gold cachous with which I decorated my drops, then try walnuts or pistachios.
Makes around 30 balls--
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
4-6 tbsp orange blossom water (enough to make a stiff paste)
Additional icing sugar and gold cachous to decorate.
1. Mix the ground almonds, icing sugar and enough orange blossom water to make a stiff paste. Knead by hand until smooth and then let the paste rest for a few minutes. Place the paste in a bowl and cover with a tea towel so that as you roll out the balls the mixture does not dry out.
2. Shape the paste into little balls the size of large marbles (I was pedantic and made mine 20g each just because I have electronic scales!). Roll in icing sugar and decorate with the cachous and place in little truffle cases. Store in an airtight container.