2 1/4 cups ground almonds
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 maraschino cherries, cut into 1/4s
OR 30 blanched whole almonds
Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 2 large baking sheets, then line with parchment paper.
In a bowl, combine ground almonds and 1/3 cup sugar. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt at high speed until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to medium and gradually sprinkle in remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Return speed to high and beat mixture until stiff, shiny peaks form. Gently fold in ground almond mixture and almond and vanilla extracts.
Roll mixture into 1-inch balls, place 2 inches apart on baking sheets, and flatten slightly. Top each with a 1/4 maraschino cherry or almond. Bake until cookies are golden, switching positions of pans halfway through, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
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