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When I lived in Rome I always longed to be able to eat these crunchy pieces of deliciousness with my morning cappuccino or afternoon espresso; and so I decided to make my own gluten-free and vegan version so I always had a stash on hand. :) I love orange zest in anything and with the crunch of the cacao nibs and almonds, the marriage of flavours and textures is just perfection! But if you’re not keen on these flavours you can use lots of other lovely things – chopped pistachios, lemon, lime, cranberries, dates etc.

These are also so wonderfully simple to make, yet look very impressive. If kept airtight they will last for a couple of weeks making them a fabulous homemade edible gift.

Ingredients:
175g almond flour (finely ground almonds)
1 tbsp of cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1/2 tbsp baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
50-60ml maple syrup or agave nectar
1-2 tbsp orange zest (grate the orange zest before squeezing the orange)
3 tbsp orange juice (from the above orange)
50g almonds (chopped)
25g cacao nibs

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

1.     Put the almond flour, cornstarch/arrowroot, baking powder and salt in a food processor and mix until well blended. Add the remaining ingredients (except the almonds and cacao nibs) and blitz well until the dough forms a ball. (You can also do this in a large bowl by hand).

2.     Scoop out the ball of dough into a large bowl and then add the chopped almonds and cacao nibs, mixing them until well distributed in the dough either with a spoon or with your hands.

3.     Next roll the dough into ‘log’ shape that is about 25cm x 5cm and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the outside is firm to the touch. Let it cool completely and then chop it up into pieces 1.5 - 2cm thick.

4.     Then place these pieces carefully their side on the same baking sheet/tray and then place them back in the oven for 15 minutes at 200 degrees or until the sides have started to brown and they appear sufficiently ‘toasted’.

5.     Remove from the oven and let cool on the tray until completely cold. Then crunch away! :)