Paste alle mandorle, or almond cookies, are one of the simplest and most delicious cookie recipes you could ask for, requiring only 4 ingredients and an overnight refrigeration, so you can make the dough one day and bake the next. And because they only use almond flour, they are gluten-free friendly!
These cookies and many variations of them hail from Sicily, where the land is full of sunshine and Mediterranean breezes, charming towns, and has the perfect climate for some of the most succulent citrus fruits and almonds. Or so I’ve heard, I have yet to actually go there! The first time I found a bag of Sicilian almonds in Italy I snatched them up, hoping for a taste experience like never before. Basically setting myself up for disappointment. They were good, yes, but I think it would be best to eat them fresh, in Sicily. Until that day when I go to Sicily, I will content myself with tastes of their culture, like the occasional good arancini (fried pyramids of rice stuffed with cheese and veggies or meat) that you can find around Florence, granita ( a slushy type drink), brioche stuffed with gelato, and cannoli. And of course, these almond cookies. And they’re so simple to make. Dangerous.
Original recipe adapted and translated from GialloZafferano
Sicilian Almond Cookies - Paste alle Mandorle
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
2 1/2 cups / 250g almond flour
1 1/4 cups / 250g granulated sugar
2 / 60g egg whites
1/2 tsp almond extract
whole, sliced, or slivered almonds
Oven 350F / 180C
In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour and the sugar.
Mix in the egg whites and the almond extract until thoroughly combined. This can be done with a spoon, a hand mixer, stand mixer, or even in a food processor.
Cover dough and place in fridge overnight or for at least 7 hours.
Remove dough from fridge and roll into balls, then roll in powdered sugar. Flatten cookies a bit, as they will not spread much in the oven. Press in a few almond slices on top. Alternately, shape them as you wish, as they hold their shape well after the overnight refrigeration.
Place cookies on a silpat or parchment covered baking sheet, leaving about 1” between cookies.
Bake in preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, until just lightly golden. Be careful no to overbake, cookies should be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
If you have almonds and a method to grind them, such as a food processor, go ahead and make fresh almond flour! Be careful not to overgrind, you don’t want the almonds to heat up and the oil to start to escape, resulting in almond butter.
If you prefer other extracts, go ahead and play around with other flavors; vanilla, orange, lemon, coconut, etc.
This recipe, if you go by weight instead of imperial measurements, is very easy to modify or double, triple, halve, etc.! You can see that the ratio of almond flour to sugar is 1:1: essentially all you have to do is mix together equal weights of almond flour and sugar, with just enough egg whites to bind them together easily and a touch of extract for flavor. Voila.
These cookies have many variants and shapes and are often piped with candied cherries on top. I’m not a huge candied fruit person, and so I found a simple recipe and omitted the piping for one of the simpler almond cookie methods, rolling in powdered sugar and decorating with almonds.