These are those delicious little biscuits that you commonly see piled up in cafés in Italy, especially in Siena.
It would be a good recipe for the kids to have a go at making over Easter. I'm all for the children getting more involved in cooking, so I thought you might like to know about Write It!, the writing competition for young people run by the Guild of Food Writers, now looking for entries for the 2010 competition.
The competition is open to any young person under the age of 18 on 31 August 2009. For further details about how to enter, visit gfw.co.uk/children.
300g whole almonds
225g caster sugar
The zest of half a lemon
The whites from 2 large eggs
A few drops of good-quality vanilla extract
A few drops of almond extract
Icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Place the almonds on a tray and roast them for about 15 minutes or so, turning them every so often, until they are golden but not too brown. Leave to cool.
Put the almonds in a small food processor with half of the caster sugar and the lemon zest and blend as finely as you can get them.
Clean a mixing bowl or the bowl of a mixing machine with boiling water to remove any traces of grease. Using either an electric hand-held whisk, or the mixing machine, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff, then add the remaining sugar and continue beating until stiff again. Fold in the ground almond mixture with the vanilla extract and almond extract.
Line a baking tray with silicone paper or baking parchment, dampen your hands with a little water, take about half a dessertspoon of the mixture at a time and roll into balls and flatten lightly until they are about 1-1cm thick; or alternatively, pipe them in a piping bag with a plain nozzle. Place the biscuits on the baking tray about 3cm apart.
Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool on the tray, then remove and dust with icing sugar.