Pasta di Mandorla

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“Pasta di Mandola” literally means “almond paste” or, “almond dough.” If this name doesn’t ring a bell for you, you may be familiar with it’s close relative: Marzipan. The dough for these cookies are used in a wide variety of culinary delights. These “biscotti” (cookies) are a particular specialty in Southern Italy and specifically here in Sicily.

IMG_2662When my mom came to visit last summer, a friend of mine volunteered to come over and teach us how to make these cookies. The following recipe is from her. You can find these biscotti at almost every (coffee) bar in town.

They often are individually wrapped which keeps them tasting delicious for up to a couple of weeks making these a great cookie to make ahead of time for an event or to ship to friends or family. You can also find them in other varieties such as hazelnut or pistacchio (two VERY popular staples here in Sicily). These cookies are also naturally gluten free making them a great choice for when you are expecting company who are gluten intolerant.

Recipe – La RicettaIMG_20151214_151923

300 grams almond flour (farina di mandorle)

200 grams sugar (zucchero)

one vile (about a quarter of a teaspoon) of almond extract (essenza o estratto di mandorle)

2 egg whites, beaten (albumi a uova)

a pinch (“un pizzico”) of baker’s ammonia or baking powder

powdered sugar for dusting (zucchero a velo)

lemon zest from one lemon (optional) (scorza di limone)

Garnishes for “O” shaped cookies:

candied maraschino cherries, rinsed (ciliegi candite)

whole, skinless almonds (mandorle intere)

 

Instructions:

You can either beat the egg whites separately until stiff and then incorporate the other ingredients or place all the ingredients in a mixer or food processor and mix until well combined.

Some suggest chilling the dough for an hour or two. If you have the time and patience! 🙂 This particular recipe uses a little bit more almond flour than sugar so it isn’t quite as necessary to chill the dough as when the ratio of flour to sugar is equal.

These cookies come in a variety of shapes. Two of the most common shapes are “O”‘s and “S”‘s. Both are typically covered with powdered sugar and the “O” shaped ones are garnished either with a maraschino cherry or a whole almond.

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Bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit (180 degrees celsius)

“S” shaped cookies bake for approx. 15 minutes

“O” shaped cookies need about 10 minutes

 

Here are a few other sites with recipes, pictures and info about these simple yet delicious cookies:

Silvia’s Cucina – Paste di Mandorle (X’mas Almond Pastries)

Italy Magazine – Biscotti di Mandorla – Almond Biscuits

Due Spaghetti – Pasticcini alle mandorle siciliani (Sicilian almond cookies)

 

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These pair well with coffee and a good book!

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