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Almond Hearts - Cuoricini di Mandorle

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Created by rossella rago,
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Description

Almond Hearts - Cuoricini di Mandorle: Out of all the recipes I developed this year for Valentines Day, this was my favorite. These almond hearts are made using my Nonna Romana's recipe for Pasta Reale, which is an almond paste from Puglia. In Puglia, sweets made of almond paste or pasta di mandorla are used to mark special occasions, especially weddings. I thought it was only fitting to turn Nonna's Classic recipe into a celebration of love this year. I found the cookies to be such a beautiful blank canvas for decorating and I had such a ball doing it. Classic pasta di Mandorle are adorned with simple garnishes like sugar glaze and chocolate so I went for a classic look by dipping half the cookies in each and adding festive sprinkles.
These cookies are fairly easy to make. I recommend chilling the dough as long as possible, even over night. If the dough begins to stick while you're rolling it out just keep popping it in the refrigerator.
The bottoms tend to stick while baking so I dusted them with flour before popping them in the oven. You can also use cooking spray if you like.

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Ingredients
  • 1 Lb-16 Oz whole Peeled Almonds
  • 1/2 Lb-8 Oz Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • Zest of 2 Lemons
  • 4-5 Drops Red Food Coloring
  • All purpose flour for dusting the bottoms
  • For Decorating:
  • Chocolate:
  • 1 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Shortening
  • Sugar Glaze:
  • 1 Cup + 2 Tbsp Confectioners Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Milk
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Directions/Steps
  1. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Place the Almonds in a food processor and process for exactly 2 minutes.
  3. Place the almonds in a bowl and add the sugar, egg whites, zest and food coloring. Mix together until the color is uniform and you have a very thick paste. Chill the dough for at least one hour or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Once the dough is chilled roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper using 1/4 inch rolling guides. Dust the bottoms with four and transfer to the baking sheets. Bake for 8-9 minutes.
  6. Avoid moving the cookies off the foil until they cool. The cookies will be soft right out of the oven. They will firm up as they cool. Cool completely before decorating.
  7. To decorate with chocolate melt the chocolate and shortening together over a double boiler and dip each heart half way. Lay on a wire rack and decorate with sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet. Allow the chocolate to dry completely.
  8. To decorate with sugar glaze stir the sugar and milk together until you have a liquid glaze. For a thinner glaze add milk by the teaspoon until you reach your desired consistency.
  9. Dip each heart halfway in the glaze.
  10. Lay on a wire rack and decorate with sprinkles while the glaze is still wet. Allow the glaze to dry completely before serving. 
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