Friday, 22 March 2013

Passover Cinnamon Balls

Another fantastic telephone conversation with my mother:

After the old dear told me that she couldn't be bothered to make cinnamon balls this year, and I told her that I would be bothered instead, she explained to me that she didn't know the recipe. After 40 years of making them every single year.

So, after a brief and vague discussion with her about ingredients and measurements, I just made them up as I went along. She did however, explain to me in great detail what an 'airtight container' to store them in was. Me: 'Just to recap Mum, how much air should I let into the container?' Mum: 'You're not too old to smack, you know.' (I am. I'm nearly forty one.)

Oh, and sorry mum, my cobbled together recipe is better than yours. How do I know? Because despite warnings that they could end up hard as bullets, mine are gooey and delicious, and exactly how I remember them tasting in the 1970's - just as all Jewish food should.

I was told to use caster sugar; since I didn't have any, granulated had to do.
I was told to beat the egg whites until stiff; a bare froth was all I could manage before getting bored and my hand hurt.
I was told to use two spoons of cinnamon - I always feel that the cinnamon needs to be a bit stronger than when my mum makes them (they're called Cinnamon Balls FFS!), so three went into mine.
I was told to bake them for twenty five minutes; twenty was all I could wait before whipping them out of the oven.

The thing is, the slight under-cooking has left them a tiny bit gooey in the middle - absolutely sublime.

The whole project took me less than a half hour from start to scoff. When my wife (Mrs Ribeye Jr) came home from work, she told me that my cinnamon balls were delicious and that they tasted like some unpronounceable Russian word from her childhood. No dear. They're cinnamon balls. Not 'Schroonabobbletopf.'

The whole guntz comes to about £2 for 16 balls. That's 12p per ball. Very thrifty.

Makes 16 balls


2 egg whites
200g ground almonds
150g granulated sugar
3 (slightly more than level) teaspoons of cinnamon
Icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 160c. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until a bit frothy and then add the almonds, granulated sugar and cinnamon. The mixture should look like damp grainy crumbs. With wet hands roll the mixture into 16 balls and place on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, until the balls have slightly risen (it doesn't matter if they slightly crack). After cooking, gently prise them off the baking sheet with the end of a spoon and roll them in the icing sugar while still slightly warm.

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