Makes 40 to 45 cookies, 3 inches each
A rustic foil to our more lavishly decorated sugar cookies, these chewy mounds, rich with pine nuts and almond paste, require no extra ornamentation to look and taste great.
• 1 pound almond paste (available in Italian groceries or specialty food stores), at room temperature
• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 4 large egg whites, cold
• 1 pound pine nuts
Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together almond paste and sugar on low speed, stopping mixer occasionally to break up any lumps. Continue to cream mixture until almond paste is reduced to fine crumbs. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Add half the beaten egg whites to almond paste mixture and cream until very smooth. Fold in remaining egg whites, making certain that all ingredients are uniformly blended. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or, ideally, overnight.
Place a rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 15-by-10-inch cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Roll chilled dough into 1-inch-diameter balls. To minimize sticking, dust hands with confectioners’ sugar, as needed. Pour pine nuts into a shallow bowl and roll dough balls in nuts to evenly coat the outsides. Place dough balls 1 to 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets and bake until cookies are lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets 5 to 10 minutes then transfer to racks to cool completely before storing.
Make-ahead tips: For easiest handling, make this dough the day before you plan to shape it. Cookies can be baked ahead and frozen, or stored at room temperature in airtight containers for up to 1 week.
Julia M. Usher is a food writer, recipe developer and food stylist in St. Louis. Contact her by visiting www.HerbCompanion.com/contributors.aspx
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