Sicilian Pistachio Cookies


The town of Bronte in Sicily is famous for its flavorful and intense green colored pistachio nuts.  Ground Bronte pistachios contain no particles of their papery husks, unlike the domestic pistachio flour (also referred to as ground pistachios) I have purchased.  I use them for special occasions when I want to adorn cakes, pastries, or cookies with their beautiful bright green color.  They become instant works of art.  But you don’t have to buy imported pistachios for this recipe.  Imported pistachios from Bronte can be costly and domestic pistachio flour works just as well.  You can purchase pistachio flour from several online sources if you can’t find it locally.  These moist, rustic, macaroon-like cookies have a hint of orange and contain no wheat flour – they’re gluten free!

Note: I use mostly almond extract to flavor these cookies because I find that most pistachio flavorings available on the market vary in intensity and impart a bitter chemical-like taste.

(Viscotti di Pistacchio/Biscotti di Pistacchio)

Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes approximately 3 ½ dozen cookies.

2 cups pistachio flour
2 cups almond flour
2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons finely minced candied orange peel
1 teaspoon grated orange or lemon zest
4 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons honey

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together both flours, 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.  Stir in orange peel and zest.  In a separate medium mixer bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until frothy, gradually add in granulated sugar until soft peaks are formed.  Fold in extracts and honey.  Fold egg whites into the flour mixture until combined.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Have ready a small bowl filled with water.  Place the remaining confectioner’s sugar in separate small bowl.  Lightly wet the palms of your hands with water and form dough into 1 1/2- inch diameter balls.  Roll in remaining confectioner’s sugar and place on cookie sheet 1 1/2- inches apart.  Lightly flatten tops of the cookies using the bottom of a drinking glass.  Bake approximately 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned for soft cookies or up to 5 minutes longer for firmer cookies.  While cookies are still warm, roll in additional powdered sugar if desired.

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