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Italian Nut Cookies

From Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery

2-1/2 cups (10 ounces) whole, unblanched almonds
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup citrus marmalade (orange, lemon or grapefruit)
2 tablespoons pure almond extract
2 extra-large egg whites
Powdered sugar for dusting, optional (see note)

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 325°F.

Separate out 36 almonds and, using a paring knife, slice the almonds in half lengthwise, severing each from the pointed tip to the rounded bottom. If there are any broken pieces or crumbs, set them aside. Place the almond halves split-side up on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly toasted.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, grind the remaining nuts and any broken pieces of nuts with half of the sugar and baking powder until it's the consistency of a fine meal. Add the remaining sugar, marmalade, almond extract and egg whites; pulse on and off until just combined. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.


Turn the oven up to 350°F.

Pick up a walnut-size portion of dough and squeeze it in the palm of your hand to eliminate cracks and air pockets. Roll it between your palms to form a 1/2-inch ball and continue with the remaining dough. Place the balls at least 1 inch apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Place 2 almond halves, skin side up, in the center of each cookie, overlapping the wider ends to make a "V" shape. Press down to ensure that they stick.

Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, until firm, rotating the baking sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

Allow to cool. Cover the almonds with a round bottle cap and dust the cookie with powdered sugar, if desired (see note).

Yields 36 cookies.

Note: To decorate with powdered sugar, you'll need a bottle cap or small lid that fits over the almond halves so just the cookie gets sugared, not the almonds.



(Updated: 10/22/08 SN)

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