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Almond Biscuits

Difficulty: easy

Method: 30'

Cooking: 12'

Rest: 480'

Difficulty: easy

Method: 30'

Cooking: 12'

Rest: 480'

Difficulty: easy

Method: 30'

Cooking: 12'

Rest: 480'

Difficulty: easy

Method: 30'

Cooking: 12'

Rest: 480'

I’ve always called them “king’s biscuits”, and now I’ll tell you why.

My grandmother, a bona fide Sicilian, has made almond paste biscuits her whole life, for everyone. She would always make them the traditional way, with glacé cherry or almond, and my favourites were the ones with cherry. I thought each biscuit resembled a crown set with a large precious stone and for this reason dubbed them “king’s biscuits”.

As it happens, pasta di mandorle, or almond paste, is also known in Italian as pasta reale, “royal paste”, since its extreme goodness is “fit for a king”.

The process always started with whole almonds. Today almost everyone buys almond flour but my grandmother wouldn’t hear of it. She bought the best almonds and made the flour herself (while I started eating them of course!). What followed seemed like magic to me: In her hands, everything happened in small, seemingly simple gestures!

The flour was mixed with the egg whites and sugar, and then I could finally join in to help my grandmother roll the balls. She let them rest in the refrigerator for what felt like an infinite period of time. It was a joy whenever my grandmother would tell me that, since I had “been good”, I was also allowed to decorate them with the cherries or almonds! “Only press a little”, she would say!

Method

  1. 01 /

    Finely chop almonds and mix with sugar in a bowl. Add egg whites, honey, vanilla or grated lemon zest, and bitter almond extract. Mix well, until the mixture is smooth and homogeneous.

  2. 02 /

    Dust a work surface with icing sugar. Transfer mixture to prepared surface and work it for a few minutes. Form a log about 3 cm thick. Cut into 4-cm long pieces and roll in icing sugar.

  3. 03 /

    Shape dough into balls and place on a baking sheet. Cover with cling film and leave in the refrigerator to dry for at least 8 hours. If you want, you can garnish the biscuits with whole peeled almonds or glacé cherries which have been drained and halved.

  4. 04 /

    Bake biscuits in the oven at 200 °C for about 12 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

The choice between lemon zest and vanilla bean pod is a matter of preference. If you decide to use the latter, cut the pod with the tip of a small knife, scrape out the seeds, and add them to the other ingredients.

Ingredients for 800 g biscuits

300 g peeled almonds

a few drops bitter almond extract

300 g sugar

3 egg whites

½ tsp honey

1 vanilla bean pod or lemon zest, to taste

Icing sugar, to taste

Glacé cherries or peeled almonds, for garnish (optional)

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