Ground almonds are used all over the Mediterranean and Middle East for an array of luxurious baked, fried and raw goodies. In Southern Italy ‘pasticcini di mandorla’ are lightly flavoured with citrus and baked briefly to ensure a soft, gooey centre. Here is my easy recipe, perfect for finishing off a Christmas meal or gifting to food-loving cherished ones.
250g Ground Almonds
200g Caster Sugar
2 egg whites from large eggs
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp orange blossom extract
Optional: flaked almonds, crushed pistachios or pine nuts.
Preheat oven at 180 degrees C.
Mix almonds and sugar in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, beat egg whites with zest and orange blossom extract. Combine with almonds, bringing together with your hands to form a dough. (Careful not to overwork or almonds release oil!)
Roll walnut sized pieces between palms and pinch together two ends to form a diamond shape, then press down on top with little finger. Alternatively roll balls in pine nuts, crushed pistachios or flaked almonds.
Lay on a shallow baking tray covered with greaseproof paper and bake for 12 minutes.
They should only take on the faintest hue of colour underneath thus ensuring a gooey centre once cooled. Best left to sit overnight. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
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