In Southern Italian Desserts, Rosetta Costantino dives into the sweets of southern Italy- from variations on classics to regional specialties that are lesser known. These Pasticcini di Mandorla – or soft almond cookies are a simple, gluten-free dessert that pair well with a cup of strong coffee.
Pasticcini di Mandorla – soft almond cookies
from Southern Italian Desserts by Rosetta Costantino and Jennie Schacht (Ten Speed Press, 2013)
Makes about 36 small cookies
1 2/3 cups (250 g) blanched almonds
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons mild-flavored honey, such as clover or orange blossom
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
Confectioners’ sugar, finely chopped pistachios or hazelnuts, sliced almonds, or whole pine nuts, for coating
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) with a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
2.Combine the almonds and granulated sugar in a food processor and process until they have the texture of fine meal, scraping the bowl down occasionally to evenly grind the nuts. Transfer the almonds to a bowl and use a spatula to mix in the egg whites, honey, and almond extract until evenly combined.
3. You can coat the cookies all in confectioners’ sugar or a single type of nut, or make an assortment by using several different coatings. Whichever you choose, place each coating in a separate shallow bowl.
Use a tablespoon measure to scoop out level tablespoons of the dough, making thirty-six cookies in total. Roll each dough piece between your palms to form a ball.
4. To coat the cookies, roll one ball in a topping (confectioners’ sugar or nuts), firmly pressing the nuts into the dough with your hands. Continue to coat all the cookies, transferring them to the prepared baking sheet as you form them, allowing 1 inch all around each cookie for spreading.
5. Bake the cookies until they are light golden and still soft to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.