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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Italian Almond Cookies

As I write this, it is a Friday evening and I am in Rehoboth Beach, DE with younger daughter.

We are celebrating.

We actually have a few things to celebrate.  First, Younger Daughter won an award at her University for the junior biology major who “best exemplifies the ideals of sound scholarship or interest in research for its own sake, active pursuit of truth, intellectual leadership and appreciation for the significance of science to mankind and community service.”

Damn girl.

I am so proud of her.  I can barely pronounce the words bacterial pathenogenesis let alone discuss its significance to mankind.  I get very excited when I hear a science-related story on NPR because that means I can share my epiphany with her. Younger daughter listens patiently as I ramble on trying to recount a story about the benefits or hazards of genetically modified organisms or how the lack of iodine affects brain development.  She's probably thinking..."somebody, please, make her stop!” But she would never make me feel like she's not interested in listening to her business-major mom trying to understand and participate in her world.

Also breaking and BIG news…lovely Older Daughter got engaged to her beau of five years, a very nice lad from Michigan.  They met at work - a museum in Philadelphia - and the entire staff witnessed as their friendship unfolded into love.   A June 2015 wedding is planned and if you think I fret over what to make when it's my turn to cook, just you wait.

Anyway, the planning has begun, complete with paging through bridal magazines, watching "Say Yes To The Dress" episodes (I have already set a budget for the gown, and it is WAY south of the $10,000 that brides featured on the show consider a bargain), developing a checklist and creating several obligatory Pinterest boards.

I thought, being half Italian and all, we could have a cookie table at the wedding.  There's always a cookie table at an Italian wedding (never mind that she only 1/4 Italian...it still counts).  I remember at my various cousin's weddings, my aunts, Millie and Adeline, would shamelessly pack their purses with the cookies.  What I thought was a clandestine sister-act operation actually turned out to be a revered tradition at all Italian weddings....apparently all Italian aunts pilfer the goods.

Any respectable Italian cookie table includes pizzelles.  Nowadays, we use electric pizzelle irons when making the thin, waffley goodies, but my Grandmom used this cast-iron stove top version that I'm pretty sure she brought with her from Italy (but I could be simply romanticizing that point).   You could develop carpel tunnel syndrome using it but that further embellishes the story of the pizzelle making because there's always a story about the making of the pizzelles.

Since making pizzelles is a half-day affair, I’ll share a recipe for making Italian Almond Cookies, another must-include on the cookie table.

Italian Almond Cookies are rustic little gems….flavored with almonds, shaped into ovals, baked to perfection and dusted with confectioners sugar, slivered almonds or pine nuts.  They are not too sweet and are the perfect something-something after a satisfying meal.   The recipe I used — from David Lebovitz’s blog — calls for almond flour and I found some on amazon.com.  He also uses apricot jam in this recipe, so I had an opportunity to deplete some of the jam stockpile I bought on sale a little while ago…I wrote about that bargain in the Thumbprints post.

Italian Almond Cookies
By:  David Lebovitz

Makes 25 to 30 cookies

For the cookie dough
3 cups blanched almond powder
1 cup sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons smooth apricot jam
A few drops of pure almond extract

For finishing the cookies
1 large egg white
1 1/2 – 2 cups sliced almonds and/or pine nuts

Directions
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 and form soft, peaks. Like this:
They should not be stiff, but the consistency of softly whipped cream. 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. You may need to use your hands to work this dough.  I found it to be quite sticky and you may have to add a bit more flour (a bit of white would be fine) as it comes together.


Preheat the oven to 325ยบ. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Pinch of pieces of dough about 1 1/4-inch in diameter and roll each into a ball, then roll them in your hands to make them into ovals, setting them on the baking sheet as you go along.  In a small bowl, stir the egg white with a fork briskly for about ten seconds to break it up. Brush each cookie with the egg white then top each with the nuts, patting gently to help them stick.  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.

4 comments:

Clara said...

These look delicious!!

Clara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Empress said...

Congratulations to your daughter! He's lucky to have you for a mother-in-law!

Ah, the Italian cookies at the wedding! One of my favorite memories from my sister Michele's wedding was when my Aunt Lucy (God rest her soul) walked in with two enormous trays of Italian cookies.

Trust me, my Aunt Lucy made the best cookies ever!

Thanks for reminding me of such a happy time!

KnitOne, PearlOnion said...

You are so welcome for the memory....nothing like an Italian wedding!!!