Almonds and other nuts are deep rooted in Mediterranean history and industries dating back thousands of years. Explorers ate this nut as they travelled between Asia and the Mediterranean on the Silk Road. And shortly afterward, almond trees were planted and flourished in Spain, Italy, Greece, and Morocco.
Throughout history, almonds have maintained religious, ethnic and social significance. The Bible’s “Book of Numbers” tells the story of Aaron’s rod that blossomed and bore almonds, giving the almond the symbolism of divine approval. The Romans showered newlyweds with almonds as a fertility charm. The domesticated varieties have a sweet flavour, although the bitter varieties are also used in cooking.
For this reason, you will find very similar almond-based recipes both in the Northern, Southern Mediterranean and Middle East culinary traditions. We got our recipe from Salvatore, our Sicilian friend living in Portogruaro for many years.
Ingredients for 4 people
For the cookie dough
- 300 g blanched almond powder
- 200g sugar
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons smooth apricot jam or orange marmalade
- a few drops of pure almond extract
For finishing the cookies
- 1 large egg white
- 120-160g sliced almonds, blanched or unblanched or pine nuts (your taste)
Preparation (one hour)
- 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.
- Fold the beaten whites into the almond mixture, then fold in the apricot jam and a drop or two of almond extract. Mix the dough until it comes together in the smooth ball.
- Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
- Pinch of pieces of dough about 4cm in diameter and roll each into a ball, then roll them in your hands to make them into ovals or round, setting them on a dinner plate as you go.
- In a small bowl, stir the egg white with a fork briskly for about ten seconds to break it up. Put the sliced almonds or pine nuts on a plate. Working with 3 or 4 at a time, roll each
- piece of rolled cookie dough in the egg white and place it in the dish containing the sliced almonds/pine nuts.
- Roll and press the ovals of dough into the almonds. You may need to press the almonds well into the cookies to get a lot of them to stick. After coating each batch of cookies with the almonds, put them on a baking sheet, evenly spaced apart.
- 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 and nuts are light golden brown. Let cool before serving.
- The almond flour can be found in supermarkets.
- Wash your hands carefully.
- Be careful with nuts, many people have allergies to them.
- This recipe is however gluten-free