The following is an excerpt from In Late Winter We Ate Pears: A Year of Hunger and Love by Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber. It has been adapted for the Web.
Almond Butter Cookies with Anise
Rome never sleeps. Beyond its many blocks of government ministry offices is a neighborhood complete unto itself: cheese shops; groceries and produce shops; hardware and motorcycle accessories stores; wineshops; shops selling hosiery, linens, discount clothing; and bread bakeries and pastry shops. The pastry shop on via Barletta is open twenty-four hours a day.
At a restaurant we found around the corner and a few blocks away we were served a ring-shaped cookie (a ciambella) along with a sweet red dessert wine. Unfortunately, we left without the recipe. So good was just the memory of this cookie that we were forced to reconstruct it once we had returned home.
Here is our recipe.
- 1 cup blanched almonds
- Scant cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon whole anise seeds
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, pulverize almonds with 1/4 cup of the sugar until fine. Combine the almonds, flour, baking powder, salt, and anise seeds in a large bowl, mix together, and set aside.
In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and remaining sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. Add one-third of the dry mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the remaining dry mixture in two additions.
Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment.
Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto the greased cookie sheet or parchment paper. (Or you can pipe them out as 3-inch-diameter rings with a pastry bag and a plain tip. If the batter is stiff and difficult to pipe, loosen it up by adding one beaten egg white.) Bake until cookies just begin to turn golden brown at the edges, about 12 to 15 minutes, but watch carefully.