While the phrase could refer to friends, family or co-workers, in this case it’s a cookie we discovered in Sicily. Having now experimented with several recipes, I have a version to recommend.
These are very easy and would be a nice addition to the Thanksgiving menu as they are light, gluten free and delicious.
- 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (aka filberts), about 8 ounces
- 3/4 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar — I use Whey Low sugar substitute* Note: this yields slightly sweet cookies. If you prefer more sweetness, increase to 1 cup of sugar.
- Pinch of salt
- 1 large egg white
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake for about 10-12 minutes until they are fragrant, lightly toasted and the skins blister. Remove and transfer the nuts to a clean kitchen towel to cool. Then rub them together in the towel to remove the skins. Warning: this is messy!
- Lower the oven heat to 300 degrees F.
- Pulse nuts in a food processor until roughly chopped. You want some big pieces. (Alternatively, crush them in a bowl– takes longer but avoids pulverizing into dust.)
- Transfer nuts to a bowl and mix in the sugar and salt.
- Whip the egg white on high setting in a stand mixture until soft peaks form and then gradually add vanilla, continuing to whip until you get medium-firm peaks. Stir this into the hazelnut-sugar mixture.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon generous-sized dollops of the “dough”, leaving 1″ of space between cookies. They don’t spread much, if at all. Cookies can be any size you want; this amount will make about 8 large (3″) cookies or over a dozen smaller ones.
- Bake at 300 for 30 minutes until golden, then lower the heat to 200 and bake for another 15 minutes so they dry out and are crisp and not sticky.
- Cool before serving.
*A note on Whey Low. Developed for the inventor’s diabetic wife, this genius product is significantly lower in calories and glycemic index than sugar and tastes/cooks the same so no complicated calculations are needed. Only caveat: it’s pricey.