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from The Italian Baker, p. 420.

My friend Sherry, cookie maestra, swears by this book. Now that I’ve tasted several of the recipes from it, I’m amazed that I hadn’t heard of it. After all, it was published in 1985 and, as far as I can tell, it has not been reissued. I first had these cookies a week ago. They are addictive, if you like a little something to finish off a glass of red wine after dinner. I made them for the first time today. How easy!

By the way, I believe ‘ossi da mordere’ has the meaning of ‘bones to gnaw on.’  But I could be wrong.

How simple can you get?

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

3/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp (100 grams) blanched almonds

1 1/3 cups (200 grams) confectioner’s sugar

Scant 1/4 cup (20 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process

3 to 3 1/2 Tbsp egg whites

1 Tbsp milk

Grind the almonds to a coarse powder in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and cocoa and process to a fine powder. Add 3 tablespoons egg whites and process to a stiff, solid paste. Add the additional egg white if necessary.

Shaping. Pinch off pieces of dough the size of a fat cherry and roll between your hands into balls. Place 2 inches apart on buttered or parchment-lined baking sheets. Lightly brush the tops with milk.

Baking. Heat the oven to 325 F. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes. At first the cookies will flatten and look like nothing at all, but, given a few more minutes, each of these little cookies will puff up and their tops will become cracked and shiny. Cool on racks.

My reactions…

Ingredients are all. When I next make them, first of all, I’m going to make sure to have blanched almonds. I used unskinned almonds and I’m sure the cookies suffered a bit for it. I used Dagoba’s cocoa powder. Next time, I’ll try it with Valrhona’s. Perhaps the chocolate will be richer and slightly earthier.

I didn’t use more than 3 Tbsp of egg whites. Next time, I’ll try the entire 3 1/2 tablespoons to see what the difference is.

Brushing with milk is aesthetic, meaning necessary. The three that I forgot to brush turned out dull and drab.

And once again I am reminded how much most cookies benefit from cooling on the tray on which they’re baked placed  on the rack. Their exteriors are crisper as a result.

It took less than 10 minutes to pull the dough together.

Last thoughts…

Wonderful.

Update, Feb 16: In response to a couple of questions:

  • to measure the rather awkward requirement of 3 1/2 Tblsp of egg white, I used an Oxo 1/4 cup-4 Tblsp measuring cup. 2 large eggs are plenty. See next point.
  • The wetter the dough, the flatter the cookie. That’s fine. But to achieve something like a French macaron (puffed up, in other words) use less than 3 1/2 Tblsp of egg whites. A stiff dough rises more, it seems.
  • If I can get a consistent rise out of these cookies, I’m going to experiment with creating a cream to spread between two of them, like a French macaron. I think I’ll have to make sure the almonds are ground really, really fine.
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