Friday, December 21, 2012

Cookie Exchange with Angela Felstad

Quote of the Day: Book trailer for Chaste by Angela Felstad

When he steps into his physics class on the first day of senior year, Quinn Walker is too exhausted from staying up all night with his three-month-old nephew to deal with moral dilemmas. As a devout Mormon who has vowed to wait until marriage for sex, the last thing he needs is a very hot and very sexy Katarina Jackson as his physics partner. Regrettably, he has no choice.

Kat feels invisible in her mansion of a home six months after losing her older brother in a fatal car crash and will do anything to get her parents’ attention. Since her pastor father has no love for Quinn’s “fake” religion and her ex-boyfriend refuses to leave her alone, she makes an impulsive bet with her friends to seduce her holier-than-thou lab partner by Christmas.

Angela Felstad is on a blog tour promoting her YA novel, Chaste. I just started reading it, and I'm already hooked. Angela is an excellent author. I've enjoyed reading her blog for a couple years and find her writing to be thought-provoking and daring. She does a great job of creating sexual tension from the start of the novel. Her characters are well defined and interesting, and the pacing of the story keeps you turning pages.

As a unique way to promote her book and spread holiday cheer, Angela is having us do a virtual cookie exchange. She's asked that reviewers and book promoters include a favorite cookie recipe in their posts.  I chose The Forgotten Kiss. It's such a fitting cookie for this story and the tardiness of my post. I had intended to get this one ready yesterday, but life got in the way, and here it is, afternoon, Midwestern time. I didn't forget, I just got side-tracked! Also, with the theme of this novel, seduction, sexual purity, and desire, what better cookie to represent it?!

Forgotten Kisses (an Aalgaard favorite)
2 egg whites (or three if smaller eggs) beat well on high
add 3/4 cups of sugar, gradually, to eggs and beat about 12 minutes.
Part way through the beating, add a tsp of vanilla, green food coloring, and a pinch of salt.
Mix in mint chocolate chips and drop onto cookie sheet.
Heat oven to 200 degrees. Place cookies in oven and turn off the heat, leave overnight (forget about it until morning), and you should have crisp, but not sugary, mint drop cookies. It's a tricky recipe. Sometimes, they turn out a little chewy. I'm sure weather and ovens make a difference on how they turn out. Our mom leaves the heat on a little while before she turns it off. You'll have to experiment. Like in relationships, you need the right amount of sugar, heat, and cooling off.

You can get more information from Angela's blog. You can order her book through most book sites.

Go. Create. Inspire!
And, find some great books to read in 2013!

Journaling Prompt:  Have you ever paired food with your reading? Or other art? Seems like a delicious relationship.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Festive Cookie-Bar/Brownie/Blondie Round-Up . . .

In keeping with the season's seemingly endless baking fest, I thought I'd gather up a nice sampling of bar-cookie/brownie/blondie recipes from past posts to share with you. I'm going to launch into an all-day baking marathon tomorrow and I need to get my ducks in a row. Thought reviewing these recipes might help get me in the mood. It's always wise to have the option of pan-baked items on the agenda along with the inevitable drop cookies, roll-out cookies, refrigerator cookies, and every other kind of cookie bound to make an appearance on the holiday platter. So, without further ado, let's plunge right in with ten favorites from days of yore . . .

Cranberry Snowdrift Bars

Nanaimo Bars

Layered (Hungarian) Apricot Bars

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cheesecake-Swirl Brownies

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Merry Mocha Streusel Bars

Strawberry Mascarpone Bars

Cream Cheese Blondies with Milk and Dark Chocolate Chips and Honey-roasted Almonds

Okay, I think that ought to keep the baking marathon on track, for a while at least. See you when we both come up for air!

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below.)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cactus-Pear & Cherry Sorbet . . .

Just last week, I made the personal acquaintance of a cactus pear. Actually, several of them. They were purplish, slightly soft, and a wee bit spiky. I had no choice but to get to know these cactus pears, because they were one component (out of seven different components) that I was forced to confront as part of the "practical final" in my most recently concluded pastry arts class, Plated Desserts II. This final, which I'd been dreading for weeks if not years (undoubtedly since I first heard about it shortly after starting culinary school, ages ago, and witnessed the terror it invariably invoked in the advanced pastry students), required me and my classmates to create a visually striking and tasty dessert within just a couple of hours from start to finish. Not so difficult, you say? Well, consider the fact that a bona fide plated dessert--composed of various textures, temperatures, colors, and flavor types--typically consists of several individual recipes, and the need to combine all the mysterious ingredients into one coherent and comely dessert in that period of time is actually a rather tall order.

The other six ingredients we had to make use of besides cactus pears were unblanched brazil nuts, unpopped popcorn, quinces, cardamom pods, brick dough (also known as feuilles de brick, this is kind of like a tougher and more transparent version of phyllo dough), and coconut sugar.

The fact that I completely forgot to photograph my dessert, once finished, helps illustrate how frazzled I must have been by the time I presented my finished plate to my teacher, a fellow we'll simply refer to here as Chef R. It was not what my husband would describe as "a triumph"--a phrase he often likes to use in reference to especially well-prepared and delicious food. No, it was a partial success and that's all it was. The part of it that was a complete success, was the sorbet portion. That sorbet, which was somewhat similar to today's recipe, was brilliantly pink and made a dramatic impression on the plate. It was zesty, sweet, and tart. It was positively psychedelic.

There was also a cactus pear sauce, equally vivid, neatly dabbed onto the plate like a tiny path, that served as a dividing line between the dessert's two main components. To the left was a perfectly egg-shaped scoop of sorbet (also known as a quenelle), with a delicate golden tuile balanced on top. The sorbet sat on a circle of crumbly streusel that I'd made from a ground combo of toasted brazil-nut brittle and popped, salted popcorn. That sorbet and tuile construction was parked near my attempt at a warm, spicy, stewed quince concoction enclosed within a crisp, baked, brick-dough basket. A cute basket, no doubt, but with sticky, sugary contents that were barely edible. Really. I joke you not. Something went terribly wrong with my stewed quince. The whole thing became gritty and grainy and wasn't at all becoming. And the cardamom in there seemed overwhelming . . . too much cardamom. As I brought my plated creation up to Chef R. at the appointed hour so he could render judgement, I knew I was a girl with a problem.

Chef R. was not impressed with the right side of the plate. Alas.

But, he did say he really liked the sorbet and thought the whole concept, at least in terms of looks, was attractive and appealing. Overall, it could have been worse. I suppose I was just glad all those weeks/months/years of anxious anticipation were over. I'd completed Plated Desserts II and, really, that was reward enough.

It was a tiny consolation, to be honest, that the other members of the class seemed to have a less than complete triumph as well. We all felt, though, that we tried the best we could given the limitations we were forced to work with. And Chef R. was only encouraging in his closing comments to us, as we gathered up our belongings and prepared to offer our fatigued goodbyes. Before we left the room he urged us to keep taking baking/pastry classes even after we complete the formal requirements of the program (I have one more class to go). Because, after all, there is always more to learn. Indeed.

Cactus-Pear and Cherry Sorbet

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

4 very ripe cactus pears
1 pound sweet cherries
12 ounces simple syrup, cooled
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons cherry (or other fruit-flavored) liqueur (I used Heering cherry liqueur; you could use Kirschwasser, or Chambord, or even Limoncello would probably be good.)

Cut the cactus pears in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the pulp with a large spoon. (Be careful; the outside of a cactus pear may have tiny spines left on it that you can't really see.) 

Pit the cherries and cut them in half.

Put the pulp and the cherry pieces into a deep straight-sided container and blend them with an immersion blender until no large chunks remain. Strain the mixture into a medium size bowl. Rinse out the deep straight-sided container. Pour the mixture back into it, along with all of the simple syrup.

Blend the mixture again until all lumps are gone and it looks smooth. Strain the mixture again into a bowl, this time with a fine mesh strainer. You're trying to catch any seeds from the cactus pears; they are very hard and black.

Stir the smaller amount of lime juice, along with the liqueur, into the strained sorbet mix. Taste the mix, and add more lime juice if you prefer. Don't add more liqueur; too much alcohol will make it difficult for the sorbet to firm up in the freezer.

Chill the sorbet mix until extremely cold and churn it in your ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer's directions.

Put the churned sorbet into a chilled container that can be tightly covered and freeze it for at least several hours. I froze mine for over a day before serving it; it needs time to get really firm, and for the flavors to ripen.

Serve in small portions. Nice as a very light dessert, or as a palate cleanser between courses.

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below.)

First Ever Holiday Party a Joyous Success!

Quote of the Day:  Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, May your heart be light, from now on our troubles will be out of sight...faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us once more. Through the years we all will be together if the fates have yourself a Merry Little Christmas now. Some of my favorite lyrics from my favorite holiday song. It was one of the sing-a-long songs at our holiday party.

I'll have to admit I was a bit anxious about throwing a holiday party. I've never done one before. I have way too much clutter. I worry about details, then forget about important ones. I had more excuses, but with help from dear friend Krista, sister Joy, and the Biker Chef I couldn't resist opening my home to the merriment. All I made was the fruit pizza and veggie dip. Krista brought peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies, a recipe she has perfected. Joy made the most delicious chocolate cake with layers of chocolate butter cream frosting flavored with hazelnut and strawberry, and made chocolate covered caramels.  She made the pico dip, and the Chef made the guac, an excellent combination of flavors. The Chef went all out with hot and cold apps: shrimp cocktail, roll-ups of ham, cream cheese, and pickle, and tortilla wraps, a reuben dip, beef and pork satays, Swedish meatballs, crackers with cream cheese and pepper jelly, deviled eggs, and more! It was a feast. 

The Chef describing the delicious spread.
Mr. Happy stood as the centerpiece for for the feast, and listened intently to the music.
Joy and I shared our musical selections and invited others to join us on a few songs.
My home was filled with great friends, beautiful music, and wonderful food. What a great way to celebrate the holidays!
Thanks for coming! I hope you all had as much fun as we did.
May your days be Merry and Bright!
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  Do you host parties? Have you ever been encouraged to open your heart or home to something new? How did it go?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Daddy's Pinoli Cookies

Special note: As many of you have heard, my Dear Father, Rito Cioffi of Scarsdale, New York, passed away from Heart Failure complications on November 18, 2012.  Only a short month ago, he had asked me to make these cookies for him at Christmas.  Strange that I have never made these cookies before.  They  are so readily available in the New York area and my Uncle is in the Pastry and cookie business.  He still insisted I make them.  I promised I would, so here they are.  There is a sense of peace for me  that comes from life's simple pleasures.  He told me that day, they will make us feel better.    Who knew?  These are for you Daddy!    I will be making them again upon my Mother's arrival on Thursday. I can't Wait.  Buon Natale! Merry Christmas!

8 ounces almond paste Made fresh or available out of can (See previous post on Home Made almond Paste). DO NOT USE THE TUBE VARIETY.
1/2 cup all purpose
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
approx. 8 ounces pinoli loose in a bowl
2 large egg whites
In a bowl of a food processor, pulse your almond paste a few seconds to break apart. Then add your sugars and pulse. Cover the top of your bowl while you do this for a few seconds. Slowly add your egg whites with your machinue running on low. In a few seconds, notice your mixture softening and creamy. Set aside for few minutes in the refrigerator if it looks to creamy. You should be able to pick it up with your fingers. If yo yu can't, add some more flour. It's very forgiving. Wet your hands some. Using a tablespoon, scoop up some of the mixture. Using your hands, roll lightly and flatten. Pass the cookies in the pinoli. The pinoli will stick to the cookie. Don't worry about the mess. They will not burn if you keep an eye on them. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet / several inches apart. I made about 20, 1-1/2 inch cookies.
Bake in a 300F, preheated oven for 25-27 minutes. The bottoms should be golden, but your tops should be a lighter color. You will also notice a slight crackling of the cookie itself.  Do not worry, let cool and Enjoy!
Pass the Amaretto please!
(Please watch that cooking time, as ovens will vary).
Thank you to Italian Food Forever for the Reminder and a great recipe post that made me give this a test and a try. I have tweeked it just a bit. You know how I love tradition here at Sunday at the Giacometti's. This recipe can be made Gluten free too. Omit the Flour entirely if you like. You will not get a fluffy cookie, but it will still be delicious. Buon Natale! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Triple Citrus Panettone . . . Fragrant Bread with a Tender Crumb

A few short weeks ago, I was sitting in a dim and cozy restaurant gabbing with my pastry-school pal, Michelle. She'd just handed me about six luscious pounds of thin couverture-chocolate disks that she'd acquired wholesale through one of her mysterious culinary connections. Two big bags of the disks were parked on the table when the waitress came over to greet us. She glanced curiously at the bulging sacks and said, "What's this?"

I think she may have feared we brought our own bag-lunch because, for an instant, she got that wary-waitress gleam in her eye. You know the gleam I mean? Anyway, Michelle, who is smart as a whip and takes no guff from anyone, quipped, "I'm a drug dealer." Then after a pregnant pause she added, "It's chocolate."

The waitress immediately chuckled, smiling in understanding. Chocolate. Of course. We were speaking the universal language.

One of the nicest benefits of attending culinary school has been the opportunity to meet kindred spirits, Michelle being one of them. It was from her that I got the notion to make panettone this Christmas season. (Michelle, you constantly generate good ideas for baking and pastry shenanigans. I love that about you!) 
And, I had another incentive to make panettone this holiday season as well. I received a complementary case of chopped candied fruit a couple of weeks ago from the Paradise Fruit Company of Plant City, Florida. I'm pretty sure I yelped in surprise when I unsealed that cardboard carton only to find all those containers of candied orange peel, lemon peel, citron, and crystallized ginger. I don't know what I thought might be in there, but it wasn't candied fruit.

I opened one of each. They all looked and smelled so fresh. I tried citron first. I'd never tasted citron before, candied or otherwise, and the first thing I noticed is that it's beautifully translucent. Light shines right through.

As I nibbled each variety of fruit, my preconceived candied-fruit notions were blown out of the water. All of the lovely, sticky, little cubes were so bright. The orange- and lemon-peels were so chewy, and the candied ginger was just right--not too peppery, and not at all bitter.

I'm now officially a candied fruit believer, and panettone is the perfect vehicle for quality candied citrus. Many, many thanks to Paradise Fruit for offering me this wonderful sampling. I love it!

About this recipe . . .

The recipe I chose is pretty elementary compared to the more elaborate, old-school panettone versions out there. This is an I-don't-have-all-the-time-in-the-world-but-I-really-want-to-make-panettone formula. Adapted from a recipe in the latest issue of the King Arthur Flour catalog, this citrus panettone begins with a starter that you toss together the night before.

What did I change? Well, the main recipe calls for 1/4 cup of potato flour, but I didn't have that so I substituted 1/2 instant potato flakes; this is a common substitution used in bread recipes, and not to be feared. I didn't have the special flavoring called for (Fiori di Sicilia), so I made my own tiny mixture of vanilla, lemon, orange, and almond extracts. I didn't have one of those traditional paper panettone pans in the correct size (though I drove around metro Detroit looking for them, to no avail!), so I used two high-sided metal cake pans (6" x 3") and they worked out just fine. And, of course, I rewrote the instructions to reflect exactly what I did.

This panettone is slightly sweet with a gloriously tender crumb of the palest yellow. Yum.

Triple Citrus Panettone
(For a printable version of this recipe click here!)

Yield: Two smaller loaves (mine were 4" tall and 6" wide); or one larger loaf

Ingredients for the starter:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/16 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) cool water

Ingredients for the dough:
2 cups (8.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup instant mashed-potato flakes (I used Hungry Jack brand, natural flavor; alternately, you can use 1/4 of potato flour.)
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt (I used fine sea salt.)
2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) lukewarm water
2 large eggs, room temperature
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
A couple drops each of orange extract, lemon extract, and almond extract (enough to equal 1/4    teaspoon total)
1 cup mixture of candied orange peel, lemon peel, and citron, all chopped into very small cubes (I used Paradise Fruit brand; it's already cut to the perfect size.)

Make the starter the night before you make the bread dough:
In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature, undisturbed, until the next morning. The starter will get slightly bubbly.

Make the bread dough:
Measure all of the dry ingredients for the dough into a large bowl; whisk them together lightly.

Add in the wet ingredients (except for the candied fruit; that goes in last) and stir until well combined combine.

Mix in the candied fruit until well distributed.

Mix by hand for a couple of minutes (I easily did this by hand with a dough-whisk; you can use a mixer with the paddle attachment, on low speed, if you prefer) then dump the dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead it for another minute or two. It should be soft and sticky.

Put the dough into a large bowl that's been sprayed with vegetable spray or lightly oiled with vegetable oil.

Cover the bowl with a sprayed/oiled piece of plastic wrap, and top that with a lightweight dish towel. Let the dough rise in a warmer-than-room-temperature spot for up to 90 minutes, until it's almost doubled (don't expect to see dramatic rise).

Turn the risen dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface. Gently deflate it. If you're making two smaller loaves, divide the dough now with a bench knife or sharp chef's knife. Shape the dough pieces into smooth balls and pinch closed any bottom seams.

Place the dough balls into pans that have been well greased with shortening (I used two 3"x 6" metal cake pans), or into paper panettone pans. Cover the pans with sprayed/oiled plastic wrap and top that with the lightweight dish towel.

Put them in a warm spot and let them rise for up to 2 hours, until almost doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the plastic wrap carefully so as not to deflate the dough and place the pans in the middle of the hot oven (I placed my pans atop a baking sheet to help ensure the bottom of the loaves wouldn't burn).

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Continue baking for 15 to 20 more minutes, or until the loaves are deep golden all over. If you're baking one large loaf, you may need to bake for 35 minutes longer.

Remove the finished loaves from their pans immediately and cool them completely on a rack before slicing.

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below.)

Pane di Nonno (Grandpa's Italian Bread)

It was a ritual for my grandfather to bring to our home every Sunday some Panella bread.  Bakeries on Sunday were always open.  It was a ritual for so many to stop on Sunday morning after church at the Bakery to pick some fresh bread up  before the traditional Sunday lunch.   Not much was available as far as Italian bread was concerned  in the local supermarkets in the 1970's, even in New York.   Local bread bakeries began expanding their territories and delivering to the local markets in the early 1980's.  Not ever locality was included as there was only so much supply to go around.  Most bakeries would run out early on Sunday morning having sold their supply.    We had almost nothing in Scarsdale, New York, except the local bakery, which was french and not acceptable as they did not carry the Panella bread that we were accustomed to having on the table.    My grandparents lived for years on 116th street and 1st  avenue in Manhattan, where Italian bakeries in the 1970's were plentiful.    My grandfather would arrive so proudly, carrying his bread bag,  as if he himself had baked it.  We would never have a bread plate at the family table, but a lovely Sunday tablecloth, cleaned and pressed for the weekly event.  My grandfather would strategically place the sliced bread at the table with such elegance and grace you didn't dare touch it before lunch.   I must confess,  that when he wasn't looking,  I would get myself a piece and run out of the kitchen!
I learned to make this recently quite by accident. I came across several recipes on the subject and this sounded so interesting,   I just had to experiment some and try it.  I had not come across any good bread   livng here in the Deep South.    For anyone who is craving that long lost Italian bread, and who doesn't have the luxury of living next door to an Italian bakery today, its worth a try. I must admit, living in Tupelo, Mississippi has made me just a little more daring.  This will transport you back in time.

You will need one food processor for combining your ingredients.  It can be combined by hand.  It does not require as much work as you might think.  Fit your food processor with a dough hook.
One Dutch oven with lid, knob removed.
3 cups of good quality unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup  plus approx. 1/2 warm water (warm to touch)
1 tablespoons  olive oil
2 tablespoons of Cornmeal
Cooking time:  One hour
I have tested many bread recipes. This by far gives the best result. It is rather important that you use a heavy cast iron pot to achieve the best result.  i like to use the food processor method for combining ingredients.  It can be done by hand~ This is my favorite as it can be prepared in such a short time and then left to rise in a warm corner of the kitchen while one is out for the day~ While one is preparing dinner it can be placed in the oven and be ready in one hour~
Combine yeast and 1/2 cup warm water in bottom of food processor bowl and pulse to combine.  Bubbles will form.. Let stand 5 minutes.
Add another 1/2 cup water, salt,  flour and begin mixing. add your remaining water. Add your flour and Mix.   You will see that within 30 seconds your flour will begin to come away from the sides of your mixing bowl and sticky ball will form.   If it still looks dry, add your remaining water a drop at a time.  If you are unsure, remove the lid and press the dough.. it should be somewhat sticky.  It should look rather elastic.  Do not worry if a complete ball is not formed.    Place flour on your hands and remove from bowl onto a floured surface.  Fold over 2 to 3 times into a ball.  You should see a sticky and smooth consistency.  Do not worry if its sticky.
Place in a bowl large enough for the dough to double in size~On a paper towel  add some olive oil and brush or gently rub  your bowl with it.  Place your dough in the bowl.  Brush  the remaining oil over your bread dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and towel.
Place in a dark, warm place like inside a kitchen cabinet.  Let rise for 8-12 hours. .The longer the better.  Overnight is good.
Take you covered pot and place in oven at 450 degrees and bake.  You need to warm up the pot you will be placing your bread in.  The lid causes the air to trap and expand your bread while cooking.  If you want the crispy, bakery  texture, this will work~
8 hours later uncover, you should see it double in bulk.  Do not worry about the bubbles This indicates your yeast is active and doing it's job.  Roll out onto a floured surface.  Fold over into a ball again (Should take a few seconds to do).  Let rest on Counter.  Pat down into a flatter
circle about 8 inches round.   Cover  with a towel.
Be careful and remove your hot pan from oven.
Remove the lid.  Be careful as it is very hot.  Sprinkle one teaspoons of Cornmeal in your pan.  Carefully drop your bread in pan. Do not worry if it looks like your pan is much bigger than your bread dough. It should almost fill the bottom of your dutch oven but only be several inches in height now.   Your bread will expand.
 Sprinkle teaspoon of Cornmeal all over your bread.  Place lid back on pan and place in oven.  Make sure your lid is tight fitting as you do not want the air to escape~
30 minutes with lid on.
Remove lid.  You will see your bread has risen some and is light golden.   Let cook approx 30  more minutes without the lid.    You will see the bread turn golden brown.
Remove from Oven. Carefully remove the bread.   Let cool.   Use your fist to Knock on top of the bread.  It should sound hollow almost. You will also hear the bread cracking as it cools down~  A very good indication of Success ~
Enjoy and Buon Appetito~

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

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 this strickly 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.