almond cookies

Easy and Delicious Italian Almond Cookies (Gluten Free!)

February 11, 2018

  almond cookies Ever wondered what to do with those leftover egg whites you seem to find in the fridge when you least expect it? I have a super easy and delicious Italian recipe to turn those egg whites into the most amazing almond cookies. And they are gluten free on top of that! With just a handful of ingredients you can impress family, friends, and even strangers (they will want to be your friends after trying one). You can expect to find them at Top of the Ridge Farm Bed & Breakfast on heavy rotation. You can find these cookies in Italy almost everywhere. Biscottini alle mandorle, paste di mandorla… you normally find them in pasticcerie (pastry shops). They are so delicious and easy to find than average Italians don’t usually bother making them. I couldn’t find them here so I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. There are a ton of variations of this delicious concoction but I find this version one of the easiest I tried. I tinkered with various recipes over the years and made many changes and I am really satisfied with this one. I am sure you will enjoy it as well. This recipe can be doubled, trebled, or multiplied ad infinitum if you so choose. And you may want to. They are THAT yummy! Sure, I have used the occasional single egg white here and there but on more than one occasion, after making rich pastry cream, I have turned 7-8 egg whites into almond cookies (see picture above). These freeze beautifully once baked so you can easily do all the work upfront, then enjoy them later on. almond cookies

A few notes:

  1. Can’t quite remember how many egg whites you have actually saved up? No problem! I find myself in that situation many times. I usually follow the rule that an egg white is about 27-30 g (1 oz) so you can simply weigh what you have to determine the number of egg whites.
  2. These hold up a bit better if left to chill for a few hours (or overnight) after shaping. But unless you are the one lucky person who can spare enough fridge space to hold the pans with the shaped cookies, then go ahead and bake these right away. They will be OK.
  3. It’s important that you use parchment paper and that you wait for them to cool off a bit before trying to release them from it. I have plenty of cookie bottoms stuck to the paper that could tell you stories… (those bottoms were eventually claimed by me in the interest of science… nothing goes to waste!).
  4. These freeze beautifully. Once baked and cooled, simply place them in a plastic container and stick them in the freezer. You can stack the cookies in the container; I like to separate the layers with wax paper but even plastic wrap or tin foil should be OK).
  5. Try these with hazelnuts, pistachios, etc. Why not? Experiment!
  6. “Wait! What gives with all these measurements in grams and ounces? What are you trying to do to me?” Well, I am Italian and we weigh our ingredients. I’ve lived in the US for 26 years and I still don’t quite grasp how cups and spoons are easier than a scale. They are so unreliable! You will find that most of these recipes don’t show measurements in cups and spoons but I promise to make a note to convert them the next time I make the recipe and update the post. In the meantime, try to use a scale. It’s super simple and you have less to clean.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg white (~27-30 gr, 1 oz)
  • 100 gr (3.5 oz) confectioners sugar, sifted to remove clumps
  • 100 gr (3.5 oz) almond flour (almond meal) or toasted almonds, ground to a fine powder
  • almond extract, to taste (at least 1/2 tsp)
  • confectioners sugar, whole almonds, slivered almonds and/or candied cherries for decoration
almond cookies

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (355F).
  2. If you are not using almond flour (recommended), toast and finely grind the almond.
  3. In a large bowl, measure and combine the almond flour and the sifted sugar. Add the almond extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg white to stiff peaks.
  5. Gradually combine the beaten egg white with the almond and flour mixture paying attention not to deflate it too much.
  6. Form small cookies and place them in a parchment-covered sheet pan. You can simply use a couple of spoons, an ice cream scoop (but the mixture tends to stick), or a Ziploc or pastry bag fitted with a tip to shape the cookies if you want to be a bit fancier. I do recommend you keep the size of these cookies small. These should not spread too much while baking so you can keep them fairly close to each other.
  7. Add a whole almond, almond slivers, or a candied cherry on top, then dust with confectioners sugar.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the oven. It may take you a bit longer but keep an eye on it. What you want is a bit of golden forming on the top surface while the inside of the cookie is still somewhat soft to the touch.
  9. Let cool completely in the pan before removing from the parchment paper. More often than not, you will leave the bottom behind if you try to take them out when they are still warm.

Enjoy!