Kiss Me, Kisses

I’m not a huge proponent of Valentine’s Day, but I am a firm believer in the power of love and the romance that inherently comes along with it. This said, Tim and I don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s Day for the very same reason; it’s a Hallmark Holiday that, for us, is completely devoid of romance because the act of romance is so overshadowed with all the Valentine’s Day obligations: the heart shaped boxes of chocolates, the long stemmed roses, the occasional jewelry box, the lemo ride, etc. I guess it just doesn’t feel right to be expressing ourselves in the very same way all these millions of other people are. But, then again, anyone who knows me knows that I am anything but conventional and neither is Tim, so in our way, this is a tremendous bond. To celebrate this spirit, I thought it would be perfect to create a dessert that was romantic, subtle as a good fragrance, and much more than meets the eye.

The added bonus to these cookies is that they can be enjoyed by anyone, not just us celiac sufferers. The first time I made these cookies, we served them at my brother-in-law’s Christmas Eve party and they were a total hit. Out of the six dozen cookies I made, only half a dozen were left the next day.


2 Cups Almond Meal
¾ Cup of Granulated Sugar
2 Egg Whites
1/3 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1 Pound Jar Maraschino Cherries
2 ½ Cups Sliced Almond, lightly crushed

Preheat oven to 425° F and line two baking sheets with either parchment paper or Silpats and set aside.

Pour the almond meal, the almond extract, the egg whites, and the granulated sugar into a food processor with the blade attachment and pulse until the dough looks wet, firm, and rolls easily into a well-formed ball. Place the dough into a separate bowl and set aside.

Drain the maraschino cherries and set them aside.

Using a round shallow baking pan or pie pan, pour in the 2 ½ cups sliced almond and using your hands, begin taking handfuls of the nuts and gently crushing them just until you can hear the pieces begin to break. Repeat this process until you have an even assortment of small, medium and large pieces.

Now fill a large bowl with cool water and set it next to the bowl with the dough and the bowl with the drained maraschino cherries, as you are now ready to begin forming your cookies.

Dip your fingertips into the cool water and moisten the palm of your left hand. The key to successfully making these cookies is having just enough water between your hands and the dough so that they won’t stick. Too much water and the dough won’t hold it’s shape and will pull away from the cherries, too little water and the dough is all over your hands, so just a few drops of water is really all that you need. Now, using a dessertspoon, scoop out a ball of dough about the size of a medium marble and gently roll it between your palms until it’s a smooth little orb. Now press it flat into a disk and take a cherry and place it in the middle of the disk. Gently gather the edges of the disk up around the top of the cherry and again roll the ball between your palms until it is again that smooth little sphere.

Next place your little ball of deception onto the bed of crushed sliced almonds and gently roll the cookie around until it is coated well and then place it on the cookie sheet. Repeat this process until all of the cookies are formed. As these cookies will not spread at all during the cooking process, you can place them close together.

Bake in your 425° F oven for 10-12 minutes or until the almonds are gently toasted and the top of the cookies have minute fissures visible on top.

Allow to cool slightly before transferring the cookies to a wire rack.

Depending on the size of your cherries, this recipe makes about 20 cookies.

I suggest serving these with Moet & Chandon White Star champagne because there is nothing more romantic than champagne, kisses and kissing.

Rene Magritte (1898-1967)
Les Amants, 1928
Richard S. Zeisler Collection, New York

No comments: