My friend Antonella took a sabbatical to be trained as a professional pastry chef in Italy. Upon her return, she baked acetani for us, wonderful almond-orange cookies that are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and have lovely aromas of almond and orange. Naturally I asked her for the recipe, and it was surprisingly easy. Just mix the ingredients, allow the mixture to cool, roll it into balls, cover them with icing sugar, and bake. The ‘tiger stripes’ that make them look so great, will appear of their own accord. These cookies are even gluten free, so what is stopping you from making them, too?! 😉
Of course Antonella, like the true pastry chef that she is, provided the recipe in grams. If you like baking, you should get some digital scales. I do provide approximate measures in cups and tablespoons, but for best results I urge you to weigh the ingredients.
250 grams (2 1/2 cups) almond flour (same as almond meal, or blanched almonds ground until very fine in the food processor)
250 grams (1 1/4 cups) sugar
25 grams (2 Tbsp) honey
80 grams (1/3 cup) egg whites (about 2.5 eggs)
grated zest of 1 orange
2 grams (1/2 tsp) baking powder
icing sugar (powdered sugar, confectioners’ sugar)
Add 80 grams of egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer. A food processor should work too, or use a bowl if you’re going to mix this by hand. Depending on the size of the eggs, 80 grams is more than 2 but less than 3 egg whites.
These are great with moscato passito, an Italian dessert wine made from dried moscato grapes. The wine has hints of orange and almonds, so it is no surprise it is a good match. One of the best known types is Passito di Pantelleria, but we enjoyed the acetani with a great moscato passito from Umbria.
Vegetable fondant is a way of cooking vegetables that has been made popular by UK restaurants. Vegetables are cooked in stock until they are tender with still some bite, and nicely caramelized on the surface. This is a great way to prepare parsnips, especially when you use sous-vide.