Traditional Sicilian almond biscuits

Sicilian almond biscuits are one the most appreciated treats of my loved Sicily.

They are mainly prepared for parties, such as Christmas, Easter, but also for Carnival. Sicily’s almond cookies are sold at local bakeries.

I buy these delicious Sicilian biscuits at the local market in my village, for instance.

I read about Sicilian almond biscuits on several blogs, but only a few of them reveal and explain the authentic recipe of the original Sicilian almond biscuits.

First of all, you must know that these pastries are soft inside and crisp outside. Secondly, their texture and size depend on the Sicilian places where they are prepared.

Another important detail is that they are made with almond flour and hence are fully gluten-free! They can have the shape of a ball or more squared sides. Some of them have a pointed top that make them resemble a pyramid.

If you want know more about these traditional Sicilian biscuits, follow the subsequent paragraphs.

Sicilian almond biscuits name

In Sicily, biscuits with almond have several names. They depend on the type of ingredients used in the recipe. If the biscuits are made with bitter almonds, they are called “amaretti”, “bitterish biscuits” in English. If they are made with sweet almonds, they are called “dolcetti”, almond cookies or almond sweets, in English. Hence, Sicilian almond biscuits include both of amaretti and dolcetti.

They are the traditional biscuits of Catania and Messina. In Catania, their original Sicilian name is “Nzuddi”. That is the diminutive of Vincent, because they were invented by the nuns of Saint Vincent convent in Catania. There, these biscuits are prepared on November 2, while, in Messina, they are prepared on June, 3, the day dedicated to a Virgin Mary party.

Sicilian almond biscuits ingredients

Sicilian almond biscuits are made with almond meal, icing sugar and egg white. On several English blogs I read that these almond biscuits are made with white eggs. In Sicily, we have white eggs and brown eggs, but this detail relates to the egg crust, while the white regards the albumen of eggs. I hope this detail is fairly clear, now.

The most exciting part of preparing almond biscuits regards their final decorations. During this stage, you can add a stunning list of Sicilian ingredients, such as candied cherries, hazelnut, pistachio and pine nut minced that often replace the traditional external layer of chopped almonds.

Furthermore, there are several types of variants of Sicilian almond biscuits, Just think the Sicilian almond biscuits seasoned with Sicily’s lemon and tangerine juice (see the image above), for example. The latter is a true burst of taste and joy for your palate. If these delicious ingredients tickled your curiosity, follow the paragraph below and discover the recipe.

Sicilian almond biscuits recipe

To prepare the traditional Sicilian almond biscuits, you need the following ingredients:

  • 200 g of peeled almond from Avola.
  • 180 g of caster sugar
  • 20 g of honey
  • 2 eggs
  • Chooped lemon peel
  • A bit of icing sugar
  • Whole almonds from Avola, candied cherries or other decorations of dried fruit.

Sicilian almond biscuits preparation

Put almonds and sugar in a manual or electrical mixer and mix until almonds are completely chopped. When they look like coarse flour, add egg whites, honey and the lemon chopped peel. Mix for a further minute until you obtained a firm and homogeneous mixture. To improve texture and flavor, you can also add baking powder, vanilla and cinnamon to the above mentioned ingredients.

At this stage, you can shape your biscuits. You can shape them by hand or through a pastry pocket with smooth or starred pipe. Seen that the mixture is too dense to squeeze with the pocket, shape the biscuits with the wet hands and form small balls of 2 centimeters. Roll the balls on the icing sugar and place them on baking sheet coated with baking paper. Insert an almond or candied cherry or orange peel in every pastry.

You can also cut the side of the dough to form a sort of star on the surface. To create crests on the surface of the dough, you must use the pastry pocket with starred pipe, instead. Put on the fridge for 24 hours. After this time, leave the almond biscuits to dry at room temperature for further 12 hours. This method prevents the biscuits from merging in the oven.

After the rest time passed, heat the oven at 180 degrees and bake when the oven heated. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes until the biscuits get a light golden color on the external surface. Churn out the almond biscuits, let them cool and coat with icing sugar. After that procedure, you can enjoy a wonderful binge of Sicilian almond biscuits.

Sicily almond biscuits curiosity

Almond biscuits have a better flavor if you use almonds from Avola. They are a traditional, organic Sicily’s product with healthy properties and grown in a charming sea village in the province of Syracuse. Other almonds, instead, are usually treated with toxic compounds.

I find that some types of almonds biscuits are too sweet. For this reason, I prefer preparing them without honey and with a natural sugar extracted from the leaves of a plant called Stevia. This kind of sugar has no calories. Someone affirmed this sugar can cause cancer, but the statement is contradictory, because this plant has many antioxidants. This post is about almond biscuits from Sicily, anyway, and not about sugar!

Where to buy Sicilian almond biscuits

You can buy Sicilian almond biscuits in bakeries near you, but if you are not in Sicily and Italy, it is not always easy to find the biscuits prepared with the authentic recipe. You can buy them online, straight from Sicilian bakers. They are sold by Giovanni Vaiana, a talented Sicilian who lives in Mazara Del Vallo, a picturesque village in the province of Trapani. His biscuits are 100% made in Sicily and handmade! Order now on his online shop called MazaraDolci and you’ll receive delicious Sicilian biscuits from Sicily straight to your home, everywhere you are.



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Flickr by Alpha


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