I always look forward to receiving these cookies when guests come over. I mean pastries and baklava are always welcome, but amygdalota... they're perfect with a cup of coffee, tea or a frappe!
I wondered how they made these cookies in bakeries. I mean I knew they contained ground almonds, but what else? Flour? Eggs? It never occurred to me to look for a recipe online because I didn't think they were so popular. Apparently I was wrong! I came across a recipe posted by the Greek Gourmand and they look exactly like the ones from the bakery! Everything on that blog looks so delicious! Many of the foods we make at home or I've had in restaurants (pan-fried feta cheese... yum!!).
The cookies turned out exactly like the bakery's when they came out of the oven, but as they cooled, they hardened a bit. Usually the outside is a bit hard and crunchy and the inside stays chewy. A bit like a macaron shell, but less delicate and more dense. The cookies are easy to make but quite hard to pipe out... The Greek Gourmand suggests an easier way for shaping the dough but I chose the harder because I wanted them to look pretty! I also added an extra beaten egg white to the dough because it was impossible for me to pipe it out otherwise (maybe that's why they turned out a bit harder?).
Amygdalota - Greek Almond Cookies
Adapted from Greek Gourmand
Makes about 24 cookies
1/2 kg blanched almonds (or ground almonds)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp fine semolina
1 tbsp orange blossom water
About 25 whole blanched almonds
Add the blanched almonds and the semolina to a food processor and grind until very fine. (I used already ground almonds but still processed them with the semolina to make them finer.)
Beat the two egg yolks and one egg white very well with a mixer in a large bowl, then add the sugar, the almond mixture and the orange blossom water and mix well with either a wooden spoon or a dough-hook on a stand-mixer. (I mixed with the paddle attachment until dough was too firm to continue, then with a wooden spoon.)
In another bowl, whip the egg white (I used 2) until stiff with peaks and then incorporate it into the almond puree mixture.
Coat the inside of a large piping bag with melted butter to help piping since the almond mixture is pretty dry. Place a large tip (I used a star tip) to the end of the piping bag and pipe out small rosettes onto a sheet of parchment paper placed on a baking tray. Lightly press a whole blanched almond into the center of each rosette.
Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 20-30 minutes (it took me 25 min) or until the cookies turn lightly golden. The aim is too dry out the outer layer and bottom of the biscuit while retaining whatever little moisture is left inside. Cool for at least an hour and store in an air-tight container to maintain inner chewiness.