These are one of my favorite cookies. Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside and lots of flavor from the orange zest and anise seed. Similar to the Italian Brutti Ma Buoni - they’re ugly, but really good! My recipe is adapted from Crunchy Bones Cookies, from the book Trick or Treat by Emily Gwathmey and Suzanne Slesin. To form the "bone" cookies, follow step 6 below. - mrslarkin —mrslarkin
Test Kitchen Notes
As mrslarkin notes, these nutty cookies are the perfect balance between chewy and crunchy, with a subtle anise kick. Make sure your toasted nuts have cooled to room temperature before pulsing, and do make sure to let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet, as they are quite soft when you take them out of the oven and need a few minutes to set up. Enjoy with a big glass of milk, or for a grown up version, a glass of vin santo. - Lauren —The Editors
confectioner's sugar (sprinkle into measuring cup, then sweep off excess with the back of a knife or offset spatula)
large egg whites, room temperature
whole toasted almonds and/or hazelnuts for decorating the cookies, if making rounds (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place almonds, hazelnuts, anise seeds and orange zest in the bowl of a food processor. Process until nuts are ground.
Add confectioner’s sugar and pulse a few more times to blend, and the nuts are finely ground. Turn out to a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites for a minute or two, until fluffy. Pour over nut mixture, and blend well, mashing the mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to evenly incorporate the egg whites. Then, knead with your fingers – I use a plastic bowl scraper – less messy – and turn and fold the dough a few times. Form into a ball shape.
Divide dough into 24 balls. I use a small ice cream/cookie scoop, about 1 1/4 inch in diameter, which makes them pretty uniform in size. Place on cookie sheets, 2 inches apart. Press whole almonds/hazelnuts onto cookies. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until just lightly browned on top. Let cool completely on pans before removing.
FOR BONE COOKIES: Alternatively, after forming the 24 balls, roll each one out into 5-inch long logs, slightly flattening the logs and scoring each end with a knife. Gently push the nubby ends to round them just slightly. You’ll end up with a cookie that looks like a femur. A little powdered sugar sprinkled on your fingertips helps with the rolling.
Cooking tip: if your eggs are cold, place them in some hot tap water for a few minutes, to bring them to room temperature faster.