Pasta di Mandorle (Baked Marzipan Cookies from Sicily)

Pasta di Mandorle (Baked Marzipan Cookies from Sicily)
Preparation time: 1 hour Cooking time: 8-10 minutes Easy - for beginners Serves: 8

Description

These delicious cookies have a history that dates back to end of the 12th century A.D. They were first made in the convent of Martorana in Sicily.

Ingredients

  • The famous Italian fruit shaped marzipans take their name ┼ôla frutta di Martoran from this convent too. These are obviously not cooked like the ones in recipe that we are giving you today though.
  • Thankfully for us they are easy to make and just as tasty as they were 1,000 years ago.
  • 500g Finely ground almonds/almond flour
  • 500g Sugar (white caster sugar works best)
  • 120g Egg whites lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 3-4 drops Bitter almond extract
  • 2-3 drops Vanilla extract (or the paste from half a vanilla pod)
  • 500g Icing sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
  2. Combine the ground almonds with the sugar on a mixer
  3. Add the honey, egg white and the vanilla and almonds extract
  4. Mix briefly until all combined and smooth. NB: Be careful not to over mix as this will cause the almonds to release oil.
  5. Place the dough in a piping bag with no point, and cut the end of the bag off to create a 1 inch diameter hole.
  6. Place the icing sugar on a large tray.
  7. Squeeze the dough out of the piping bag and cut off the dough with a scissor as every 1 inch length forms.
  8. Allow the cut dough to fall on the icing sugar but not on top of each other.
  9. Roll the dough so that they are completely covered in icing sugar and place them 1 inch apart on a baking tray with a silpat or greased baking paper. (if you prefer a more hands-on technique see this video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-HlVof8l4I
  10. Place in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the characteristic cracks from from the slight rise, and they are light golden brown (where you are able to see because there is less icing sugar)
  11. Remove from oven and leave to cool. Keep in an airtight container for up to a week.

Variations: Leave out the bitter almond extract and:

  1. Pistacchio - Substitute half the ground almonds for ground pistachios, or
  2. Hazelnut - Substitute half the ground almonds for ground hazelnuts

Tips:

  1. Remember not to over mix or knead the dough too much.
  2. If you cannot find the nut flours in your supermarket you can use raw blanched nuts (without the soft outer skin). Place the same quantity of nuts as amount of nut flour required in the recipe, with the same amount of ordinary white sugar in a food processor and blitz with short pulses until a fine breadcrumb texture is achieved. Be careful not to over blitz as the nuts will release oil. Proceed with Step 3 in the recipe.

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Tags

Dessert  · Snack  · Italian  · Sugar  · Sweet  · Almond  · Italy

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