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Have you ever met a person who is just so naturally gifted that it blows your mind? Introducing the lovely Sarah, who is and has always been an absolute natural when it comes to creating gorgeous food and aesthetics. With a natural flair and an eye for composition, texture and beauty, she has always delighted in discovering op-shop treasures, retro fittings that don’t cost the earth that placed in just the right position make her home look like it came out of a magazine – for a fraction of the cost.

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She has always been an incredible cook, even before training as a chef. I have memories of sampling her citrus tart, and drooling over a plate of fresh pineapple, macerated in sugar and chopped mint leaves. This recipe is her own, adapted from a classic Italian recipe while living in an Italian farming community in far north Queensland. Now working as a chef, and with a house full of growing girls, Sarah doesn’t have time to blog. So, I’m sharing this fantastic recipe on her behalf.

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I made dozens of these last year for a cookie swap, so that by the time Christmas came, I wasn’t really in the mood to blog them. But I made a note to share them in time for Christmas this year, and I’ll be making another batch soon. We have instituted a tradition of sharing food gifts with our neighbours, and this year will be no different. Sometimes it opens the door to an ongoing friendship; sometimes it just means we get to chat once a year. I made these last year, and got loads of positive feedback.

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Chewy Italian Almond Macadamia Cookies {gf/df}

Makes at least 50 cookies

Ingredients
5 large egg whites
500g almond meal*
500g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup icing sugar
Macadamias / dark chocolate

Method
Preheat oven to 170degC. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. With a whisk or fork, beat egg whites and vanilla until foamy. Combine almond meal, caster sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Make a well in centre, then add beaten egg whites to almond meal gradually, mixing all the time. Use a wooden spoon and begin at the centre of the bowl, mixing with a circular motion that becomes larger as ingredients become blended. Do not overmix; as this will toughen the dough (mixture is quite stiff).

Place icing sugar mixture in a shallow bowl. Take the dough 1 tbsp at a time and roll into balls, then roll each ball in the icing sugar mixture to lightly coat. Arrange on prepared trays. Press nut or choc or both, half into the centre of each biscuit.

Bake for 15 minutes, until risen, cracked and very lightly coloured.

Cool for 5 mins on tray before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Notes
*I used the rougher version of almond meal, including the husk, and needed 6 egg whites as a result. If using the whiter, blanched version of almond meal (almond flour), use 5 as per original recipe.

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