Resist the urge to use a cookie scoop for these. They are better looking pushed off of a teaspoon with your finger—old school—into irregular heaps. You'll need 2 cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper, for this recipe.
about 45 1 1/2-inch cookies
1 1/2 cups
(170 grams) powdered sugar, extra for dusting.
(170 grams) fine almond flour (I use Bob’s super-fine almond flour, which is blanched) or 1 rounded cup (170 grams) whole blanched almonds
aniseed, slightly crushed with a rolling pin
(170 grams) lightly packed moist whole dried Mission or golden figs, chopped into pieces about the size of large raisins
Position racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (325°F for convection).
If using almond flour, sift the powdered sugar into a bowl and whisk it with the almond flour and aniseed until the mixture is lump free.
If using whole blanched almonds, put them in a food processor with the powdered sugar and pulse until they are as finely ground as possible without becoming a paste.
Toss the almond mixture with the fig pieces to coat and separate them. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and almond extract at medium high speed until they are white like shaving cream (no longer yellow and translucent) and soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Mix the salt into the granulated sugar and beat it gradually into the egg whites to make a very stiff meringue with a dull sheen. Pour the almond-fig mixture over the meringue. Fold with a large rubber spatula just until the dry mixture is fully incorporated. Don’t be tempted to mix and smear the meringue into the almonds, just keep folding—the ingredients will come together.
Drop heaping teaspoons of batter (about 1 level tablespoon) an inch apart onto the lined pans. Bake for 12-15 minutes until cookies are golden brown with some browner peaks and golden brown and sealed on the bottoms (check this by turning a corner of the parchment liner back and peeling it gently away from one of the cookies). The surface will feel crusted and may be cracked, but the cookies will be soft inside. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Set the pan on racks to cool. Let cookies cool completely before storing. To remove cookies from the parchment, gently peal the parchment from the bottoms of the cookies rather that lifting the cookie, which might tear the bottoms. Cookies keep in a covered container for several days at room temperature.
Sift a little powdered sugar over the cookies before serving, if you like.
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).