Thursday, November 26, 2015

Italian Snow Balls (Palle di Neve)

Nothing says Merry Christmas, then a plateful of these wonderful treats.   They look like snow balls.  Once baked, they should be soft and melt away in your mouth.  Texture is everything.  These Buttery treats are ready in no time.  Just takes a few ingredients.  Many of you make these buttery cookies with Pecans due to their abundance and availability in the United States.  Truth be told, you can even make them with strictly, good quality flavoring.  These are made Regionally in Italy and are made with almonds.  I had some Walnuts on hand and that worked out fine. 
Whichever way, they will always be finished in a hurry because you just can't eat one.  
From Our house to yours, wishing each and every one of you a very, Merry Christmas ! Buon Natale!  

 Ingredients:  Makes about 20-24 cookies
One stick of good quality, unsalted butter
A pinch of salt
2/3 cup confectioners sugar plus about a cup for decorating 
3 teaspoons vanilla  (use the appropriate flavoring if using almonds)
one cup plus 1/4 unbleached flour
one cup plus 1/4 cup chopped nuts. I used Walnuts
3 tablespoon good brandy or Bourbon.  I used good, Kentucky Bourbon as it gives these cookies a sweet smell, all their own.
Line, one large baking sheet with parchment paper
Preheat your oven to 325 bake
(It's is very important that you do not over bake these balls, or they will flatten like cookies.  Cooking time and oven temperature is everything).

In a standing mixer, cream your butter and sugar, then salt.  Add your extract, flour and nuts.   Add your liquor, last and mix until your dough comes together.  It should all just take about a few minutes.
Roll out some dough into your hands and form into a one inch or so ball.  Place on the parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes in the center rack of your oven.
While cooling, sprinkle some confectioners sugar over the cookie.   When cool enough to handle, place some additional sugar into a Ziploc and gently place your cookies inside.   Roll them around until they are completely covered in sugar.  Using a Ziploc, cuts down on the mess.  You can save the sugar for another batch.

 I wonder if anyone will notice, a few are missing. 
Buon Natale Everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sicilian Amaretti Cookies (Almond Cookies)

Get ready~ These almond cookies will take you back in time for sure! Consistency is everything here. I tested three recipes, with slight variations.  I do not think my grandmother or mother were worried to much about exact amounts.  They just cooked.  My mother said I should have added some Pinoli~ hehe I thought I would keep these Sicilian~
This is a great holiday cookie.  You can make it as large or as small as you like.  My first intention was to prepare a small enough cookie to make my chocolate Truffles.  That did not happen until the third try. (That is a future post).  
 Make sure your batter is thick and sticky but not runny. If you need to, add more ground almonds.  If you are using almond flour, add some freshly ground almonds as your batter should look more like cormeal rather than flour. 
Preheat your oven to bake: 350 degrees.   

5 CUPS OF SLIVERED ALMONDS/ SHOULD YEILD 3 CUPS OF FLOUR.  Grind in your food processor for about 30 seconds or so.  Your ground meal should resemble corn meal.  It is not necessary to sift anything but you can.  I sifted my powdered sugar.  If you see any larger pieces of almonds on the bottom of your mixing bowl, just save those for another recipe.  Be sure you have 3 cups of ground meal.

3 cups almond / meal/ or almond flour
1 cup plus 3/4 cup confectioners sugar/ sifted
4 large egg whites/ whipped to stiff peaks with 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
 In a bowl combine your flour and confectioners sugar.  Whip your egg whites with a pinch of your confectioners sugar and add your almond extract.  Set aside.  Combine your flour/sugar mixture into your egg whites and with a spatula mix gently, a little a time.  Keep going until your mixture is thick, sticky and combined.  It should be somewhat dry.  Do not worry.  This is normal.  If its to runny, add more almond flour.  It must mix and come away from the sides of your bowl.  Do not worry if you are adding up to a half a cup of flour or more.   This method is very dependent on what you see and how large your eggs really are.  This will vary. Do not panic.  It will work.
On a parchment lined baking sheet, use a teaspoon and spoon a helping of your batter onto your baking sheet.  They should be equal to 2 teaspoons, but you can make them as large or as small as you like. Just remember to watch them in the oven.  Continue, two inches apart, as fast as you can.  I actually rolled it in my hands into balls, like you would meat balls. They should hold together.  Be sure and place your hands in some almond flour before handling your cookie batter.  They won't stick to your hands as bad.  You don't want it to be runny or your cookies will be to flat.  They will still be good. This is what happened on this cookie.   Continue and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees or until your cookies are very lightly golden.  They will burn easily so be careful and take care to keep an eye on them.  When you see cracks across the tops, they are done.



They must cool completely before handling them.  Give them at least 15 minutes to cool or they will break.   Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top and serve~ Buon Appetito.