Hazelnut and Fiori di Sicilia Cookies
Fiori di Sicilia is an essence from Sicily with hints of citrus and vanilla. This cookie is inspired by a Greek cookie made with almonds. You can order the Fiori di Sicilia online from King Arthur Baking. It is both gluten free and dairy free.
Makes 35 cookies
3 tablespoons baking soda
30 hazelnuts, preferably peeled
1 pound hazelnut flour
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons Fiori di Sicilia
1 teaspoon hazelnut extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
Large pinch salt
¼ cup limoncello
Preheat an oven to 375F.
If the whole hazelnuts are not peeled, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and the hazelnuts and simmer 3 minutes. The water will turn black during this time. With a slotted spoon, remove the hazelnuts and place in a bowl of ice water. With your fingers remove the skins. If any of the skins cannot be removed,. Place those hazelnuts back in the boiling water for 1 minute and repeat the process of removing the skins. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast until light golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a food processor, finely grind the hazelnut flour and ¾ cup of the sugar to make a fine dust. Place in a large bowl.
In the meantime, beat the egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, Fiori di Sicilia, hazelnut extract, almond extract and salt or orange blossom water to form very soft peaks.
Add just enough of the egg white mixture, a little at a time, to form a dough that can be shaped into cookies. Be careful that you don’t make a wet paste that won’t hold its shape. You may not need all of the egg white.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Wet your hands with the limoncello and take a walnut-size pieces (about 20 grams) of the dough and roll in the palms of your moistened hands to form into balls. Place on a baking sheet 1 1/2 –inches apart. Flatten slightly. Place one of the reserved peeled hazelnuts in the center and press lightly.
Bake until lightly golden on top and bottom, about 19 to 20 minutes. Do not overbake or it will dry out the cookies. The cookies should be firm on the outside and still somewhat chewy and soft on the inside. They may appear soft as you take them out of the oven but they harden as they cool.
Let cool completely on racks and store in an airtight container. You can also freeze them.