Sicilian Almond Cookies and People-Watching in Italy

We discovered these Sicilian Almond Cookies while on holiday in Italy this fall. They are the perfect chewy, nutty, not-too-sweet treat to nibble with your coffee or hot chocolate, or whenever you need a break.

cup of tea and a Sicilian Almond Cookie

Come, make yourself a cup of coffee or a thick, creamy Italian Hot Chocolate, grab a couple of these nutty, soft, chewy Sicilian almond cookies, and let’s go do some people-watching. It’s my favourite thing to do on holidays, and there’s a chair over there at that outdoor cafe that would be perfect . . . .

Sicilian Almond Cookies, Buskers in Rome

buskers in Rome. don’t you just want to clap along?

Sicilian Almond Cookies, afternoon stroll in Rome

we’ve got lots of company along the Via del Corso

Sicilian Almond Cookies

a little opera in front of the Pantheon

Sicilian Almond Cookies

buy a paper cone of hot, freshly roasted chestnuts from vendors at any street corner in Rome

A country’s people are its living heartbeat, and Italy has a large beating heart full of warm and wonderful people (with a few interesting characters thrown in to add some spice).

Sicilian Almond Cookies, pizza at Rosciolo's in Rome

pizza with a smile (Roscioli’s in Rome)

Naples is another great place to people watch. Everyone and their dog scoots around on motorbikes. You can see whole families crowded onto one bike, heading to church on Sunday.

Sicilian Almond Cookies

going doggie-style

This little old lady is a sharp business woman. When I asked if I could take her picture, she rubbed her thumb and fingers together, indicating money. Once I gave her a euro, she ‘happily’ posed for me.

Sicilian Almond Cookies

a smile costs extra

Sicilian almond cookies, carriage driver in Sorrento

we could take a carriage ride in Sorrento . . .

Let’s go driving a little way down the Amalfi Coast.

Sicilian Almond Cookies, people watcher in Positano

a fellow people-watcher in Positano

Sicilian Almond Cookies, biking along the Amalfi coast

when a big tour bus tries to get through a tunnel . . . Amalfi coast

Sicilian Almond Cookies, men chatting in Alberobello

sharing the morning news

How is your Sicilian Almond Cookie?

Sicilian Almond Cookie and teacup

Here, have another one, and then we’ll head off to Sicily to do a little more people watching. We’ll pick up a few more cookies at this bakery in Cefalù.

bakery window full of Sicilian Almond Cookies

they’ve got all kinds: some with cherries in the dough, some plain, and the rest rolled in a variety of nuts or seeds

Sicilian Almond Cookies and a glass of wine

enjoying a few Sicilian Almond Cookies with vino on our rooftop balcony at the seaside Dolce Vita bed and breakfast in Cefalù – what a view

Sicilian Almond Cookies, drive-by chatting in Sicily

a little drive-by chatting

Sicilian almond cookies, chef's selection of fresh fish, Cefalu, Sicily

here’s our fresh catch of the day. which ones would you like me to prepare for your dinner?

Sicilian Almond Cookies, ceramic artist in Caltagirone

ceramic artist in Caltagirone

Sicilian almond cookies, cutting cactus fruit in Modica

here, let me cut open this cactus fruit so you can eat it right away

Sicilian Almond Cookies, 3 wheel truck driver in Noto

this fellow in Noto was proud to tell us he’d had his truck for 43 years

Sicilian Almond Cookies

people-watching the people-watchers, in Noto

This toothless Casanova in the Catania Fish Market wore a basil sprig over his ear and tried to entice the ladies by offering them a fresh shrimp to taste. When he got no takers, he twisted the head off the shrimp and ate the whole thing, shell and all. The ladies were duly impressed.

Sicilian Almond Cookies, Casanova in the Catania Fish Market

come on sweet lady, just try one

Even fishermen need to call their wives.

Sicilian Almond Cookies, fishermen at the Catania Fish Market on their cell phones

honey, I’ll be a bit late coming home. the market is hopping today

Sicilian Almond Cookies, herb sellers in Catania Fish Market

part of the crew of young gentlemen walking through the market selling bundles of fresh herbs

Sicilian Almond Cookies, Octopus for sale

fresh octopus! come and get your fresh octopus!

And everywhere in Italy, there are benches full of old men sitting in the town squares, solving the world’s problems.

Sicilian Almond Cookies, men talking in Alberobello


Sicilian Almond Cookies, Men talking in Caltagirone


Well, maybe one woman . . .

Sicilian Almond Cookies, men talking in Taormina


And where are the rest of the women?

Sicilian Almond Cookies, woman sweeping in Alberobello

doing the daily chores

Wanna meet me again tomorrow for some more people-watching and a cookie or two?

Come, let’s bake ourselves a batch. They’re so soft and chewy inside and crunchy on the outside – not too sweet, but deliciously nutty with a hint of lemon mingling with the delicate almond flavour.

Sicilian Almond Cookies with moscato wine

try Sicilian Almond Cookies with a sweet moscato wine or a vin santo

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau notes: Sugar or icing sugar is the traditional sweetener in these cookies, but I add honey to give the cookies more chewiness and include lemon zest so they have the flavour and texture of the Sicilian cookies we enjoyed. The batter is very soft, but if you wet your hands it’s easy to roll the balls.

You can also roll the cookies in icing sugar and press a nut or candied cherry into the top before baking, instead of rolling them in nuts.

Sicilian Almond Cookies on Plate


Sicilian Almond Cookies (Pasticcini di mandorle)

gluten free, dairy free

  • 2 large egg whites
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (110gms) sugar
  • ¼ cup (85gms) honey
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (from about one small lemon)
  • 2½ cups (250gms) ground blanched almonds/almond flour
  • About 1½ cups pine nuts, slivered almonds, chopped pistachios, whole pistachios, hazelnuts, or almonds

Whip egg whites with salt until foamy. Add sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Beat in honey, vanilla, and lemon zest.

Stir in ground almonds. The whites will deflate, but that’s okay. (The reason for beating them was to dissolve the sugar in them.)

Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).

Roll the cookie batter into 1¼ inch (3cm) balls. The batter will be very soft and somewhat sticky. To keep the batter from sticking to your hands as you make the balls, have a small bowl of water beside you. Between rolling each cookie, dip a finger into the water, then wipe your palm with your wet finger to keep your hands slightly moist.

Roll the cookie balls in your choice of nuts, pressing the nuts into the cookies as much as possible to make them stick.

Place the cookies onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets, and bake for 30 minutes.

Makes 24 cookies.

*These cookies freeze well or keep for several weeks at room temperature in a sealed container, longer if refrigerated.

Buon Appetito!

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You might also like:

Italian Hot Chocolate and Photos from Italy

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Bark or Chocolate Mendiants

Hello Dolly Squares

Sicilian Almond Cookies and pink flower

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6 Responses to Sicilian Almond Cookies and People-Watching in Italy

  1. Sabine Macleod says:

    Hi there,
    I have to go to Italy soon.
    Thanks for a fab. evening.

    • Margaret says:

      Such a great time!

      You’ll have to head to Italy after your world tour! So much great food and so many great people! Hugs to you, too.

  2. Nancy says:

    The cookie recipe looks easy to make and delicious to eat. Thanks for sharing.

    • Margaret says:

      It is a really delicious cookie – come out for a visit some time and I’ll bake you a plateful 🙂

  3. Nancy says:

    So I tried baking these yesterday and they turned out to taste amazing! Almost like a marzipan taste to them. I ground some blanched almonds that were in the fridge and my Heavy Duty Kitchen Aid worked hard, however, the cookie is something else. I took over a few to our neighbour and he was impressed with this new recipe. I froze the rest to share with the kids when they come home in a few weeks. We are looking forward to the festive season.

    • Margaret says:

      So glad you like them too! Good idea to use up the nuts. I’m slowly getting into the Christmas baking mode around here, too. Haven’t got decorations up yet – hopefully today. 🙂 The Christmas mood is sliding in and I’m starting to get excited for the holidays. Wish you were here 🙁

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