This is one of the recipes that came down to me from my little Italian grandmother, Giovanna. During the holidays, she would always send my family tins filled with a variety of cookies and these were my favorites. Plus, I love to watch others enjoy these kisses because the look on their faces is priceless when they discover the unexpected cherry in the middle.
- 2 cups almond flour
- 3/4 cupsugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 3/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 2 cups (8 ounces) sliced almonds, coarsely crushed
- one 1-pound jar maraschino cherries, drained
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a food processor, combine the almond flour and sugar and mix on low speed for a few seconds. Add the egg whites and almond extract and mix on high speed until the dough pulls together into a sticky mass and forms a ball. The dough should be firm. If it is very soft to the touch, add a couple of tablespoons of additional almond flour, mixing well.
Put the almonds in a pie pan. Using a 1 1/4 inch-diameter ice-cream scoop, scoop out the dough and transfer it to a flat surface; you should have about 18 balls of dough.
Fill a shallow bowl half-full with water and lightly wet the palm of one hand. Rub your hands together so that they are very lightly moist.
Take one of the dough balls and place it in the palm of your non-dominant hand. Gently press the ball into a disk the size of a half-dollar. Place a single cherry in the middle of the disk and then carefully lift the edges of the disk up and around the cherry, enrobing it in the dough. Roll the cookie between your hands to form a ball. If the dough pulls away from the cherry, your hands are too sticky, so lightly moisten them in the water again and then proceed. Roll the finished ball in the crushed almonds until evenly coated and place on one of the prepared pans. Repeat until all the cookies have been made.
Bake one pan at a time for 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The kisses are done when golden brown and faintly cracked on the surface. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
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