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These cookies are inspired by my dear friend- food writer and historian, Aglaia Kremezi, and are my husband's new favorite!
Makes 30 cookies
1 pound almonds plus 30 almonds3 large egg whites¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar1/8 teaspoon salt2 to 3 drops almond extract or orange blossom water2 to 3 tablespoons lemon liqueur
Preheat an oven to 350F.
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the almonds and simmer for 20 seconds. Remove and place the almonds on a baking sheet and let cool. Using your fingernail, puncture the skin and pop the almond out of the skin. Discard the skins. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and toast until light golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Reserve 30 of the almonds, place in a bowl and set aside for garnishing later. In a food processor, finely grind the remaining almonds and the remaining sugar until to make a fine dust. Place in a large bowl.
In the meantime, beat the egg whites, almond extract or orange blossom water, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and salt to form soft peaks.
Add just enough of the egg white mixture a little at a time to form a dough that can be shaped into cookies. Be careful that you don’t make a wet paste that won’t hold its shape. You may not need all of the egg white.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Wet your hands with the lemon liqueur and take a walnut-size pieces of the almond dough and roll in the palms of your moistened hands to form into balls. Place on a baking sheet 1 1/2 –inches apart. Flatten slightly. Using your fingertip, make a slight dimple in the center. Place one of the reserved almonds in the dimple and press lightly.
Bake until lightly golden on top and bottom, about 20 minutes. Do not overbake or it will dry out the cookies. The cookies should be firm on the outside and still somewhat chewy and soft on the inside. They may appear soft as you take them out of the oven but they harden as they cool.
Let cool completely on racks and store in an airtight container. You can also freeze them.
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