Sicilian Almond Paste cookies are scrumptious and easy to make! I am so happy to be sharing my mother’s recipe, also known as “Pasticcini alla Pasta di Mandorla”. These are the most incredibly special cookies that we make. This cookie is like a macaroon. A little crunch on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. There is a gorgeous almondy sweetness to this cookie and I guarantee that one bite and you will know why I call them special. Not only are they delicious but they are also gluten free!
My mom has been making these for years and they are always a part of a special occasion cookie platter. The taste and texture take me to another place. When I eat these, I envision myself sitting outside a café in Sicily, enjoying the sweet flavors of the almond as I sip on a nice strong espresso. We got to experience just that a couple of years ago on a family trip to Sicily and it was glorious! The pastries were spectacular, and almonds were front and center.
For the Love of Almonds
Almonds are not native to Sicily; they were originally cultivated in the Middle East and made their way to the island in around 1,000 BC. They have become the second most popular fruit tree in Sicily, being beaten out only by olive trees. Almonds are so popular in Sicily that there is a festival devoted to them in Agrigento in February , when the trees blossom.
The almond has roots in the bible as well as Greek mythology. It has come to represent good fortune and, love and fidelity. As the story goes, after the Trojan war, Demophon visited Thrace and married Phyllis. But he could not stay. Before he left, he promised to return to her. Phyllis waited for many years and finally died of a broken heart. An almond tree sprouted from her grave. Demophon eventually returned to find her and when he visited her grave the almond tree blossomed. So, it has become tradition to serve almonds at weddings, and they are usually coated with sugar. You will find this tradition of giving “confetti” all over the world. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of almonds in Sicily, you may want to check out the Best of Sicily Magazine.
Let’s make Sicilian Almond Paste Cookies
Not only are these cookies awesomely delicious, but they are easy to make:
- There are only 6 ingredients in this recipe: Egg whites, Sugar, Powdered sugar, coconut, almond paste and sliced almonds.
- Grate the almond paste with the shredder side of a cheese grater.
- Beat the eggs for a minute or so, until they get frothy.
- Add the granulated and powdered sugars.
- Beat the mixture on medium speed until the sugar is melted and the texture looks like liquefied marshmallows.
- Mix in the coconut.
- While continuing to beat the mixture, gradually add the shredded almond paste.
- Beat until the dough comes together.
- Form the dough into teaspoon sized balls.
- Roll the cookies in sliced almonds.
- Arrange on a cookies sheet about 2” apart.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown.
If you would like to try some of my mom’s other Sicilian cookie recipes, you might like one of these:
Sicilian Almond Paste Cookies, “Pasticcini alla Pasta di Mandorla”
- 1/2 lb almond paste
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup sugar granulated
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut flaked, sweetened
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Using a standing cheese grater, grate the almond paste on the shredder side of the grater.
- Beat egg whites, sugar and powdered sugar until it looks a bit like soft marshmallows.
- Adding the coconut and beat until well mixed.
- With the beater running on medium, gradually add the almond paste and continue to mix until the mixture forms a dough like consistency.
- Place the sliced almonds in a shallow dish.
- Use a scant teaspoon to measure the dough. Roll the dough into a ball and then roll it in the sliced almonds.
- Arrange the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.