For our family, Easter is a joyous holiday filled with religious observance and fun! The fun comes from many traditions passed down, such as coloring hard-boiled eggs to prepare for our annual Easter egg “roll,” as well as traditions our family has experienced, especially while we lived in Italy.
We love the way Italians celebrated Easter–no Easter bunnies and baskets, but a true celebration of the good in a spiritual life and the blessing of families. The week before the holiday, at the Saturday outdoor market, palm fronds are woven into various shapes and sold to celebrate Palm Sunday and usher in blessings for the coming year. I remember the sun shining brightly and church bells ringing more often that Holy Week. Yes, in the stores there is chocolate, as in giant chocolate eggs that when broken, reveal a small toy inside for the children’s enjoyment. AND biscotti di mandorle.
We would love to celebrate Easter in Italy again someday. But this year, all of our children will be far away from Happy Valley for the holiday, as we have become empty-nesters.
I wanted to remind my children of those wonderful spring days in Italy, so I decided to send them each an Easter care package that included Almond Cookies (Biscotti di Mandorle). These cookies are so easy to make. They are light and sweet, and oh, so chewy, filled with almond goodness!
Almond Cookies/Biscotti di Mandorle
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
1 pound almond paste –I found it at Wegmans: one pound was 2-8 ounce boxes of Solo Almond Paste (on the bottom shelf in the flour/sugar aisle)–don’t mistakenly buy almond filling or marzipan
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 cup powdered sugar
4 egg whites (save the yolks and make this delicious dessert)
1 and 1/2 cups sliced almonds, poured into a bowl
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookies sheet with parchment paper.
In a food processor, crumble the almond paste into the bowl. Add the white sugar and pulse until crumbly. Pour this mixture into a bowl and add the flour and powdered sugar; stir well. Mix in the egg whites and stir well. The mixture will be VERY sticky!
To firm up the dough, refrigerate the cookie dough for about 20 minutes.
Using a large cookie scoop or ice cream scoop, roll each cookie in the sliced almonds, flatten just a bit and place on the parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake in the oven 20 minutes or until lightly browned and the edges of the almonds have started to look toasted.
Leave the cookies to cool on the cookies sheet, as they will be easier to remove when they are firm. Store in a sealed container.