Pasticcini di pasta di mandorle (Sicilian almond dough cookies)
Makes about 4 dozen
- 1 package (about 300 gr.) blanched almonds
- 300 gr. Sugar
- 70 gr. egg white (from about 2 eggs)
- A few drops of bitter almond extract (if you can’t find it – I saw some on Amazon – you can use regular almond extract)
- Candied cherries, almonds, or candied citrus, to top the cookies
In a food processor, finely grind the almonds and the sugar. Slowly pour in the egg whites and the almond extract to form a dough that comes together but is not too stiff or too loose.
Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
Using a pastry bag (you will want to wet the inside with water so the dough does not stick) fitted with a star tip starts creating some rounded shapes. If you find it hard to use a pastry bag you can also roll the dough in your hands to form small balls and then (like you would do for thumbprint cookies) gently press your thumb in the center of them to create a small depression. In the center of the cookies place your decorative element. I used candied cherries: they are very colorful and fun.
Allow to rest and dry overnight: this is very important, because it will allow them to set and loose some humidity so they can keep their shape when baked the next day. The next day, when ready to bake, turn the oven on at 400F (200C). Bake until barely browned on the edges. The center should be soft and chewy. Cool them on cookie trays.