And so, the long-awaited jolly season officially begins at my house, with a tray full of these colourful, soft almond cookies, heralding the impending gluttonous days that this time of the year invariably brings. And although it only feels it’s been a couple of months since my last Christmas, which I spent back home in Milan with my folks, I cannot help feeling comforted by the glorious festive spirit that my children and I exude as we set off to the kitchen to shape these traditional Italian cookies. Some call them Paste di Mandorle, others call them Amaretti, but Raffi and Miro have duly renamed them Rudolph’s nose cookies!
INGREDIENTS, makes 18-20 cookies
275 gr (1 – 1/3 cup)of caster sugar
300 gr (2- 1/2 cups) of almond meal
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
1. Place sugar, almond meal, egg whites, vanilla and almond extract in a standing mixer and beat together for 2-3 minutes or until a sticky dough is formed.
2. Roll bits of dough the size of a large walnut and place them onto an oven tray lined with baking paper.
3. Make an indent in each ball of dough with your index finger, then sit a cherry onto each dimple. Shape the rest of the dough into small rectangles (this is the typical Ricciarelli shape), cover them liberally in icing sugar and place them onto the oven tray with the rest of the cookies.
4. Bake at 180 C, 350 F for 18-20 minutes of until the bottom is firm, but the cookies are still pale in colour
5. Allow to cool and further firm up at room temperature before serving
They will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container
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