Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Speckled green


I dream of Italy and its scents, its flavors, its energy.

Cinnamon sugar dust

I roamed Milan for a few hours, my eyes grazing the façade of the Duomo di Milano. I had some pizza and bland gelato. I watched a British T.V. show with a smoky Italian voice over. I slept in a small bed, with stiff sheets, in a small room, in an outdated hotel. Then, I hopped on a plane to go back home with sweet memories of London, Paris, and Lausanne, but none of Milan.

A perfect pyramid

That was my only experience in Italy, unfortunately.

The reach

I still dream of Italy, and of its parmesan and focaccia, olives and espresso, risotto and bucatini. Until I stumbled across Heidi's recipe for biscotti al pistacchio, I never thought much of Italian desserts. Gelato is okay. The tiramisu cakes I've eaten are cloying and have much to be desired. And then came these cookies! My lacking, short trip has given me an incentive to go back for the art, the culture, and, now, the desserts. 


Pistachio-Almond Cookies
(Biscotti al Pistacchio)
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
I made some significant changes to the recipe. First of all, I didn't have that many pistachio nuts. I did have some almond meal so I subbed that in. I wasn't digging the lemon zest with the pistachio nuts. Turning to a spice that never lets me down, I added cinnamon. Chewy, aromatic delights. 

150 g. shelled pistachio nuts, roasted and unsalted
100 g. almond meal
1/2 scant c. granulated sugar
2 t. honey
3/4 t. vanilla extract
1/2 heaping t. cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 large egg whites
1/2 c. powdered sugar

Grind the pistachio nuts in a processor with 1/4 cup sugar until the nuts become "pebbly." Add in the almond meal and pulse a few times to combine. Add to a large mixing bowl. Add the honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in the egg whites. Add the rest of the sugar. Take heaping teaspoons of the dough and plop into powdered sugar. Roll gently to form a ball. Lay on a parchment lined cookie sheet, an inch apart from each other. I had 24 cookies on one sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly raised. It is hard to see under the powdered sugar but Heidi says "until they are golden." I took out my sheet after 17 minutes of baking.

Eat warm (so good!) or room temperature. Store them in an airtight container for 2 weeks... I guess? I wouldn't know. I made them three days ago and only three remain!

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