Marcona Almond Cookies

Season: All | Active Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes | Difficulty: 1 (Very Easy) | Dairy-Free | Gluten-Free

I used to live in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, a historically Italian-American neighborhood with several beloved Italian bakeries all within a few blocks of one another and my apartment. I’d occasionally stop by Monteleone, Court Pastry, Caputo’s Bake Shop, or Mazzola Bakery on my way home from the subway to buy a pignoli cookie—chewy, sweet, almondy, and by far my favorite Italian cookie. When thinking about a pignoli-inspired cookie for this book, it clicked that Marcona almonds, with their rich, toasty flavor, were a great swap for the pine nuts. Grinding some of the almonds into the dough lends texture and balance, the saltiness of the nuts tempering the sweetness of the almond paste. They’re quick, easy, adorable, and super delicious.

Makes about 24 small cookies

Special Equipment: Food processor

4 ounces (118g) Marcona almonds, plus about 24 whole almonds for topping ①

1 (7 oz / 198g) tube almond paste (not marzipan), coarsely crumbled

¼ cup sugar (1.8 oz / 50g)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs (3.5 oz / 100g)

Preheat the oven and prepare the baking sheet: Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Make the dough: In a food processor, pulse the 4 ounces (118g) of almonds until coarsely chopped. Add the almond paste, sugar, vanilla, and 1 whole egg and 1 egg white (place the yolk in a small bowl) and process in long pulses until you have a smooth dough. Add 2 teaspoons of water to the yolk, beat with a fork to combine, then set aside to use as an egg wash.

Scoop the dough and top: Transfer the dough to a pastry bag (or a resealable zip-top bag) and snip a 1-inch opening. Pipe the dough onto the prepared baking sheet in 1½-inch-diameter rounds, spacing them about 1½ inches apart (the cookies will spread only slightly).

(Alternatively, you can use a ½-ounce scoop or rounded tablespoon measure to portion dough into uniform mounds.) Use a pastry brush to cover the entire surface of each cookie with a thin layer of the egg wash, then press a whole almond into the center of each cookie.

Bake: Bake the cookies until they’re puffed and golden brown all over, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the baking sheet before carefully peeling the cookies off the parchment paper.

The cookies, stored in an airtight container at room temperature, will keep up to 5 days. The baked cookies can also be frozen up to 2 months.

① Marcona almonds’ very high fat content makes them turn rancid quickly, so store them in the freezer to maintain freshness. If you can’t find Marconas (hint: they’re usually in the cheese section of the grocery store), you can use salted roasted cashews, another high-fat nut.

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