Nut Biscuits

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

nut biscuits are a large group within the multifarious category of biscuit.

In some of these biscuits ground-up nuts, usually almonds, replace some or all of the flour. The simplest are known in English as macaroon or ratafia, made from ground almonds mixed with sugar and egg white and baked crisp. Baked nut mixtures appeared in English cookery books at the beginning of the 17th century when they were part of the banquet, a selection of sweetmeats and sweet wines taken at the end of a meal. They continued to be popular through the 18th century when a softer almond sweetmeat, called a rout biscuit (‘rout’ was an 18th-century term for a party), became fashionable. These were not really biscuits but little marzipan shapes decorated with nuts, candied fruit, chocolate, and glaze. They were still being made at the end of the 19th century, shaped from a mixture of almonds, sponge cake crumbs, sugar, and egg yolks. They were the predecessors of the tiny biscuits and cakes to which the name petit four applies.