Cherry-filled almond cookies

Biscotti cegliesi
Biscotti di Ceglie

Originating from the Ceglie Messapica area of Puglia, these simple and downright addictive cookies have been a home favorite ever since discovering them at the Slow Food Cheese fair last year. I’ve been making an adapted recipe of these whenever I feel like something sweet for snacking, but with Easter coming up fast, these cookies are a tasty addition to the table.

Cherry-filled almond cookies

Ingredients:
8 oz. almond meal (ground whole with skins on)
8 oz. almond flour (ground whole with skins blanched off)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
zest from 1/2 lemon
few drops orange extract (optional)
cherry jam (preferably thick and not runny)

Cherry-filled almond cookies

Add all ingredients except cherry jam into a large bowl. Using your hands, combine and work together until it comes together into a ball; divide into 2 equal portions. Lightly flour work surface and pat one portion to about 1-inch thickness. Spread about a couple of tablespoons of cherry jam in the center, fold over the top half, and gently press edges together.

Cherry-filled almond cookies (sliced)

Now this is the tricky part, and I will say that depending on how thick the jam is, rolling the filled dough into a log can be a little messy. Lightly flour work surface as needed, and gently roll the dough – working from the center and outwards – until it reaches 20 inches in length. If it tears in some areas, gently patch it together but don’t worry about 100% perfection in this rustic-looking cookie. Slice into 24 pieces. Repeat with remaining dough.

Cherry-filled almond cookies (baked)

Place slices on a cookie sheet and bake at 375°F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Note in the image above that some cookies will “burst” while others leak out a bit of jam, but for all gustatory purposes, no one will mind at all!

Never thought I’d use this at the supermarket

Mobile scanning devices at the super – have you played with one of these yet? Gone fewer are the days when I looked forward to weekly markets full of fresh seasonal produce, local food vendors, cheap clothing and household items. Now it’s all about simplifying and doing tasks asap, and if by chance it’s done without too much stress, then all the better.

mobile scanning device

Voila! The portable barcode scanning device at Esselunga. Self-service checkout counters are so yesterday. This new style of purchasing goods was introduced at another big supermarket (Auchan) months ago, but we were too lazy to jump on the tech wagon. The way it works is pretty straightforward: activate a device with your loyalty card (one will light up green among the whole bunch), insert in holder, and start scanning away with a simple point and click of the [+] button. If you change your mind about an item, point and click the [-].

The device keeps score with each item addition so you never need fear of going over budget. Right. The procedure for checking out is just as effortless. Point scanner onto the barcode at one of the dedicated kiosks to light up the screen panel. Follow directions for payment, take the receipt, and access the exit swing door by inserting the bottom of the receipt (there’s a barcode printed at the end) into the reader. Every now and then a clerk will double-check if everything is in order, and that means taking all your stuff out of the cart and putting it onto the conveyer belt like a normal checkout. If it turns out that the items are accounted for, an extra 20 points goes onto your loyalty card for all your trouble. Out of the 3 times we’ve used this, we’ve been “checked” only once, but I have to say that this beats standing in a slow line at the cashier.