bonfire night is for snuggling up; rosy cheeks and pinched noses, foggy plumes of breath escaping into the cold night. The 5th November is one of my favourite days of year; a time when the leaves crunch under foot and the warmth of a British pub roast is all you need after a long Autumnal walk. It is totally acceptable to carb-load on these kind of days, when the wind is roaring outside and chill in the air makes your knuckles turn white.
This year, I stayed in, watching the glittering rockets of light soar into the air from my living room window. There’s something gluttonous about cosy-ing up indoors, blanket wrapped round you, the kettle on ready for a warming cup of tea and not feeling in the least bit envious of those who’ve ventured out into the cold for the fireworks. Saying this, sparklers and mulled wine are totally my thing and wrapping up ready to embrace the cold for an evening where the sky is alight with shimmering brilliance is something I have done every year since I was a child. Perhaps there is a first for everything.
Part of that affinity is the food stalls selling candy floss, caramel popcorn, cobnuts and barbecued bangers, mulled wine, hot ciders and frothy chocolate milk. And I’ll take any excuse to slip on a pair of mittens and pack a thermos flask to keep everyone warm, along with sparklers and smiles. Though, on cold nights like these you need more than mittens to keep you warm: Food with a kick, that is entirely grown-up in the melange of sweet treats.
I have to say that this recipe was not my first choice. I had really wanted chocolate. Dark chocolate to be precise. A perfect bonfire night chocolate cake. However having searched high and low for one ingredient in particular, and spending most of my morning running from supermarket to organic food store with no luck whatsoever, I resigned myself to the fact that the bake was simply not meant for this weekend. So, with one packet of lonely blanched almonds peering at me from the shelf of aisle three, I grabbed them and got myself back in the warmth of my flat before my fingers got numb and my nose turned any pinker than it already had.
Instead, I decided to bake something that packed a punch, full of warming flavours and home comforts. If I dared breathe the word “cheddar” to any of my French friends, I am sure they would gasp with shock, but yes – cheddar cheese, in a savoury biscuit with chilli and blanched almonds. The perfect pre-dinner delight on a cold winter night or beautiful as a gift parcelled in cellophane and finished with ribbon. Plus, who can resist a bit of cheese? Even if it is cheddar.
Chilli Almond Biscuits
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp chilli flakes
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
175g plain flour
2 tbsp milk
150g blanched almonds, roughly chopped
1. Chop the butter roughly and beat it with the cheddar, chilli flakes, salt, paprika and garlic until smooth.
2. Add the flour and milk, then work everything together until you get a smooth and pliable dough.
3. Divide the mixture in two, roll each half into a cylinder about 4cm think and 20-25cm long, place on a sheet of parchment paper and freeze until firm.
4. To bake, cut 1cm thick slices and place them a few centimetres apart on a lined baking tray.
5. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/gas mark 4 and bake for 20-25mins until golden brown.
Recipe from Dan Lepard’s Short & Sweet