(Sienese Almond Cookies)
This is a delicate cookie - which for centuries were called marzipan (like all Italian almond treats)…said to be shaped like the almond eyes of the madonnas painted by the Renaissance painters.

6 ounces blanched ground almonds
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups powdered sugar,
plus 1/2 cup for rolling out the cookies
3 drops almond extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grind the almonds. I have a coffee grinder for jobs like this. Add the powdered sugar. Combine the baking powder with the flour and fold in. Beat the egg whites until stiff and mix into the almond mixture. Add the almond extract and blend until you have a soft paste.

Place some powdered sugar on a clean, dry surface. Form one tablespoon of dough into a small ball, roll in the sugar, and then form the traditional diamond shape, flattening the cookie with the palm of your hand.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden.

We enjoy these especially with candied orange peel rolled in them - or even mixed candied fruits or chopped candied cherries (red and/or green is a nice touch for the holiday season!) And dip in chocolate for a fabulous treat!!! The red and green candied cherries and dip in white chocolate - absolutely perfect!!!

Makes about 16 cookies.

These are easy to make, so making them frequently is no problem.