MAKES ABOUT 3½ DOZEN
Sometimes the names of Italian sweets seem almost more intriguing and fascinating than the sweet itself. Such is the case with the names of many cookies. There are references in old cooking manuscripts to special cookies that were made only during the Lenten season, called quaresimali. The name comes from the word for Lent, quaresima. These cookies will last almost as long as the Lenten season.
3 cups unblanched whole almonds
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.
Spread the almonds on a cookie sheet and toast them for about 8 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a bowl and let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 350ºF.
Reserve 2 1/4 cups of the almonds. With a sharp knife, chop the remaining ¾ cup of almonds fine. Transfer to a bowl, add the honey, and blend well.
In a large bowl, combine all the remaining dry ingredients and mix well.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the softened butter until well blended. Add to the honey and almond mixture and mix well. Add to the dry ingredients, along with the reserved almonds, and mix with your hands until the dough is well blended. The dough will be stiff.
Divide the dough in half and, with floured hands, form each piece into a loaf 12 inches long by 3 to 4 inches wide. Place the loaves on the greased cookie sheets and brush the tops of each loaf with the egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Transfer the loaves to a cutting board and carefully cut each loaf on the diagonal into slices about 1/2-inch thick. Place the pieces on their sides on the cookie sheets and bake for 7 minutes on each side, or until well toasted and hard.
Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
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