Italian orange and almond cookies

These cookies are inspired by both Nigella Lawson and Gil Marks, both have a similar recipe. Making these is usually a Zen moment in the middle of the madness for me. After a long day of cleaning and cooking for Pesach – usually long after everyone has gone to sleep. I will sit down at the table, body exhausted, but my mind is still hoping to get one last job done – and rolling these cookies is it. I get myself into a zen-zone knowing that after rolling and sitting out in the open air all night the cookies will be ready to slip into the oven in the morning and ready for Seder night. These cookies have the added benefit of making a huge amount that keeps well in an airtight container for a full week and improves with age.

  • 4 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 450g (2 cups) caster (super fine) sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla sugar (1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 600g ( 4 3/4 cups) ground almonds
  • Icing (confectioners) sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand held electric whisk, whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff and dry. Gradually add in the sugar one tablespoon at a time, until the egg whites are glossy and all the sugar has dissolved. Add the vanilla sugar (or essence) and whisk until incorporated. Add the zest and almonds and mix together well. You should have a hard-ish paste to work with.

Dust a clean surface with icing sugar and dump your almond paste on to the surface. Using a knife divide the dough into 12 (or more) portions. Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough with hands dusted in icing sugar into logs about an inch thick. Using a knife, cut the dough into inch long pieces, each piece should be about the size and shape of a large bottle cap.

Place cookies on a baking sheet that has been lined with baking paper and allow to dry overnight (8 hours). In the morning preheat the oven to 140 C, once hot bake the cookies for about 30 minutes. Once cooled roll in icing sugar, and place in an air tight container.

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