Italian Almond Cookies

These delicious gluten-free cookies won the Star Tribune holiday cookie contest.  I would call these marzipan cookies, because that is what they taste like. When I tasted the first batch I thought, "I've made these before."  Sure enough, these cookies taste very much like some marzipan and pine nut Easter cookies I used to make.  The problem with that recipe is that it requires a pound of expensive marzipan, while this recipe starts with less costly almond meal.  (Buy Honeyville blanched almond flour online.)

These are the kind of cookies you can make every year.  They are quick and easy to bake and nearly foolproof.  Besides, they taste amazing (if you're a fan of marzipan) and will be eaten very quickly.  The lemon zest is a touch of genius, don't omit it!

Italian Almond Cookies
Recipe by William Teresa
Makes about 24-30

1 egg white
2 1/4 c. almond flour
3/4 c. granulated sugar
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, for coating

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat egg white until soft peaks form.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, granulated sugar and lemon zest. Stir in beaten egg white, honey, almond extract and vanilla extract, and knead into a ball of dough (dough will be slightly sticky). Roll dough into a 1-inch thick log. Using a sharp knife, cut log at 1/2-inch intervals and form dough into egg-shaped cookies.

Fill a shallow bowl with powdered sugar. Roll cookies in powdered sugar, coating all sides and gently tapping off excess powdered sugar.

Place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets (cookies spread only slightly) and bake until only slightly browned with a cracked exterior, about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to three days.