This is a quick and easy recipe with only FOUR ingredients! Hogweed seeds have gorgeous notes of cardamom and add a wonderful extra aroma to this recipe.These almond macaroons tend to disappear in minutes once they exit the oven in my house.
Hogweed is one of my favourite plants to forage. And yes! It is related to a poisonous version called Giant Hogweed so if you're new to foraging, you will need to familiarise yourself with this one and avoid. Once you're tuned in to the edible kind however, it's a really common plant and you will notice it everywhere. Hint: Giant Hogweed is less common, is HUGE and has spiky stems. Edible hogweed is not as tall and is not spiky as well as much more widespread.
For more information on poisonous plants to avoid - including Giant Hogweed, see my blog post on poisonous plants to avoid when foraging. I also wrote about hogweed seeds in my August blog post - so check you can check out how to identify in that post as well.
To make Hogweed spice
Gather 3-4 umbels (seed heads) of hogweed plant. Please check identification before doing this and avoid picking the Giant version.
Dry the seed heads particularly if exposed to damp or wet weather on drying rack or near a heater.
Separate hogweed seeds from umbel and scatter on a baking sheet
Set the oven to 180C.
Toast hogweed seeds for around 3-4mins.
Remove and allow to cool
Grind to a powder using mortar and pestel or electric grinder.
You can make the powdered spice using dried seeds but I find toasting the seeds gives them a more rounded flavour that works well with these biscuits.
225g ground almonds
120g caster sugar
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon of hogweed spice
optional: beech nut as topping
Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment. Place the ground almonds, sugar and hogweed spice in a large mixing bowl and mix until fully combined.
Separately, beat the egg whites until foamy, then add to the almond, sugar and the hogweed spice mixture. Stir well – it will form a slightly sticky mixture but should hold its shape. At first you will not believe that so little liquid will be enough - but it will!
Wet your hands lightly and roll a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into a ball between your palms – it should measure around 4cm in diameter. Place on the tray and flatten slightly with wet fingers to a thick disc, leaving at least 3cm between each macaroon. Press a beech nut or blanched almond into the middle of each one - this is optional.
Bake for 18-20mins until just starting to turn golden around the edges, then remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. The result you are looking for is a macaroon that is crispy and crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. The longer you leave them in the oven, the harder they will become. Sprinkle with icing sugar to decorate.
Eat, share enjoy! They are a lovely simple treat to bring to a gathering or save for an after work reward with a cuppa.