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.
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 . . . .
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).
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.
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.
Let’s go driving a little way down the Amalfi Coast.
How is your Sicilian Almond Cookie?
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.
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.
Even fishermen need to call their wives.
And everywhere in Italy, there are benches full of old men sitting in the town squares, solving the world’s problems.
Well, maybe one woman . . .
And where are the rest of the women?
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.
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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 (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.
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