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The original recipe is an almond paste base enhanced with Grand Marnier as a flavor accent. But I can imagine taking these cookies in many different directions. This time around I went the lemon route, but if you can imagine an ingredient pairing well with sweet almonds, you might try it here. I used two tubes of Odense almond paste here, but be interested if any of you know of a good, pure almond paste make from organic almonds. Also, be sure to buy almond paste, not marzipan.
1 large egg white
14 oz / 400g almond paste
1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55g confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus quite a bit more for surface and coating
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
scant 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon limoncello
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Beat the egg white, the almond paste, confectioners’ sugar, and almond extract together either by hand or with an electric mixer, until creamy, about 2 minutes.
Add the zest, limoncello, and salt and beat until combined, another 30 seconds.
Coat a clean/dry surface with a generous handful of sifted confectioners’ sugar then turn the dough out onto it. Shape and roll out the dough into two 3/4-inch thick logs, roughly 18 inches long. Cut each log into 24 equal pieces (see photo). Make sure each piece is entirely coated in sugar, tapping to remove excess.
Transfer to prepared baking sheets. They don’t spread much so you can crowd them a bit more than you might with other cookies. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F / 180C degrees. Use three fingers to gently pinch each piece of dough to form an irregular pyramid shape of you like, or you can leave them pillow shaped. Bake until pale golden, about 15 minutes. Alternatively, I also like them deeply golden, it’s a matter of personal preference really, but baking for a few extra minutes will achieve this. Transfer the cookies from baking sheets to wire racks, and let cool completely. These cookies keep well in an air-tight container for a few days.
Makes 4 dozen bite-sized cookies.
These cookies are a riff on the Pinched Orange Macaroons by Patrick Lemble (executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons restaurant, New York City) highlighted in the December 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living.
Prep time: 45 min – Cook time: 15 min
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