Mandorlini del Ponte are meringue cookies loaded with almonds that I enjoyed at Bar Centro Storico in Ferrara and according to Ennio Occhiali, the bar's owner, these are heirloom cookies of the area that are no longer made at home. Mandorlini del Ponte takes its name from a bridge in the port town of Pontelagoscuro, which loosely translated means bridge of the dark lake. Take care when making these cookies; they should be dry and crackly, a texture that is achieved by whipping the egg whites in a bowl over simmering water.
Makes about 3 ½ dozen
3 cups slivered almonds
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
Colored sugar or coconut for sprinkling on top of the cookies
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Place the almonds on a bake sheet and toast them for 5 to 7 minutes. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Transfer the nuts to a food processor and coarsely grind them. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and set aside. Fill a pan halfway with water. Keep the pan over low heat.
Beat the egg whites in a bowl large enough to fit atop the panful of water without the bowl touching the water. When the whites are foamy, begin beating in the sugar a little at a time.
Transfer the bowl to the top of the pan, raise the heat to medium high and continue to beat the whites about 5 minutes until they are very glossy and thick. Remove the bowl from the pot and with a rubber spatula fold in the almonds and then the flour a little at a time. Use two teaspoons and drop the meringues onto the parchment paper, spacing them about 1/2-inch apart. Or fill a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe out the batter onto the parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the meringues are firm to the touch.
Cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the parchment paper to cool completely on a cooling rack