Looking for a beautiful, healthy holiday cookie that tastes like a treat but will leave you and your kids feeling good, even hours after you eat it? This, my friends, is your cookie.
Don’t get me wrong, my kids and I do enjoy some of the regular holiday sweets around this time of year. But I do really love having some healthier festive options up my sleeve, because the holidays go on for over a month, and all of the sugar can just become too much.
I’m sharing a little list of why I like these little Italian-inspired cookies so much. They also happen to be gluten-free, grain-free, and dairy-free, which I mention in case those are selling points for you.
- They transport me back to December nights in Italy, when my family and I would bundle up and take a stroll to look at the gorgeous outdoor holiday markets. One of my favorite treats for sale was always the Sicilian cookies made with almond flour.
- These cookies are beautifully festive — the pistachio and cherry version reminds me of little holiday wreaths.
- I’m in love with both their flavor and texture. They are slightly chewy, like a less-sweet, more satisfying version of marzipan.
- Made with almond flour and egg whites, these cookies are high in protein as well as fiber. They will give you and your kids lasting energy and be less likely to cause a sugar high and subsequent crash like typical cookies often do.
- The only sweetener used in this recipe is dates, which contribute some extra fiber and nutrients to the cookies.
Did I convince you? Ready to get baking? Making these with your kids can also turn into a fun, family holiday activity.
Sicilian Almond Cookies
(from page 326 of Sugarproof)
Makes around 48 small cookies
–3 cups (290g) almond flour
–Generous pinch of salt
–2 cups (300g) pitted, unsweetened dates
–1/3 cup (80ml) water
–5 egg whites (3 for the dough and 2 for the coating) at room temperature
–1 cup (80g) unsalted, raw pistachios, chopped (can also use pine nuts or sliced almonds)
–48 dried, unsweetened cherries, roughly 1/2 cup (110g) if small. (Can also use quartered dried apricots).
–Maldon salt or other high-quality sea salt, for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F (175 C).
2. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a small bowl, combine the almond flour and the salt and set aside.
4. In a food processor, blend the dates and the water into a creamy paste. It is okay if there are still small, visible bits of dates in the paste.
5. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Crack 3 into a medium bowl for beating and 2 into a small bowl that you will use to coat the cookies. (You won’t need the yolks for this recipe.)
6. Beat the 3 egg whites until soft peaks form.
7. Using a rubber scraper, fold the date paste into the whites. This will deflate them some and that is okay.
8. Fold in the dry ingredients and continue blending until a dough forms in the middle of the bowl. It is okay if it feels sticky/gooey.
9. Shape the dough into small balls, slightly smaller than 1 inch each. This should make around 48.
10. Using a fork, stir the remaining 2 egg whites to loosen them up. Chop your pistachios if you haven’t already and put them in another bowl.
11. Dip each of the balls into the egg white and then roll in the pistachios (or other nuts).
12. Flatten each ball into a small disk and coat with additional nuts, if needed.
13. Create an indent in each cookie and top with a dried cherry (or apricot piece).
14. Sprinkle a tiny amount of sea salt on top of each cookie.
15, Place on the baking sheet and bake the cookies for about 25 minutes or until they are golden brown. For even browning, it is helpful to rotate the pan around mid-baking. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring them from the baking sheet.
Note: when developing these cookies, I used a recipe from David Lebovitz’s blog as a starting point and then made a number of modifications.
NUTRITION FACTS PER SERVING (1 COOKIE):
CALORIES 70 TOTAL FAT 4G PROTEIN 2G TOTAL CARBOHYDRATE 8G DIETARY FIBER 1G TOTAL SUGARS 5G ADDED SUGARS 0G