Sunday, September 7, 2014

Italian almond cookies

I think I'll have one (or two) with my coffee this week. As I mentioned in the previous pavlova post I had (still have) an abundance of egg whites in the freezer. I had just enough almond flour on hand to make one batch of these tasty cookies and then 5 egg whites left for the pavlova. North Beach is known for loads of Italian restaurants and of course we have a few sweet shops with cannoli, tiramisu, and my current craving is the almond cookies with a crisp outside and dense chewy center. They're often dotted with whole pine nuts or rolled in powdered sugar. As I always do I used less sugar and more real flavor. Going off the same list of recipes to use up extra egg whites from David Lebovitz I went with this recipe for Italian Almond Cookies with a few tweaks. I still want to try Nigella Lawson's ricarelli recipe, but I have a feeling I'll make a few more batches of these in the weeks to come. I'm excited to put all the meyer lemon marmalade to use too. 

  • Italian Almond Cookies makes about 30 cookies 
  • 3 cups blanched almond flour (see note at the bottom)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons lemon marmalade (can use orange marmalade or apricot jam and lower the sugar by 1/4cup)
  • a few drops of pure almond extract (* I added 8)
1. In a large bowl, mix together the almond powder and sugar. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they start to mound and form soft, peaks. They should not be stiff, but the consistency of softly whipped cream.
2. Fold the beaten whites into the almond mixture (they’ll lose volume, which is fine), then fold in the lemon or orange marmalade and add the drops of almond extract. Mix the dough until it comes together in the smooth ball. You may need to get into it with your clean hands to help knead it together.
3. Preheat the oven to 325ºF (160ºC.) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
4. Pinch off pieces of dough about 1 1/4-inch (4cm) in diameter and roll each into a ball. I used a mini ice cream scoop. Roll them into round balls and put them on a baking sheet, evenly spaced apart. 
5. Bake the cookies for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheets in the oven, turning them around so the cookies bake evenly, until the cookies light golden brown. Let cool before serving.
Storage: Once cool, the cookies can be stored in a container at room temperature for up to one week. I would not recommend freezing them as it will change their toothsome texture.
- Almond powder also goes by the name almond meal, almond powder, or almond flour. It’s simply ground up almonds. If in doubt, check the ingredients; the only one should be almonds. If you can’t find it, you can pulverize the equivalent amount of sliced, blanched almond (by weight) in a food processor with the sugar called for in the recipe. 

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