This weekend Mike and I are off to the Clarksville Picnic in my mom’s hometown of Clarksville, Maryland. The picnic is one of the highlights of my year; it features the white elephant rummage sale, bingo, pony rides, games for kids, a bake sale, a quilt raffle (which my mom won three years ago, and that quilt is now on my bed) and a family-style fried chicken and baked ham dinner.
I love the picnic because it gives me a chance to hang out with my Maryland family, the descendants of the Feaga-O’Donnell clan. The lynchpin is Aunt Liz, my mom’s twin sister. Yes, my mom has a twin. And no, you cannot get a word in edgewise when they’re together.
Anyway…Aunt Liz is the youngest of the six O’Donnell kids, and her home, Glyndon, is the center of my Maryland universe. Tucked into a corner of Montgomery County that hasn’t been developed to death, Glyndon is a classic white colonial with black shutters, a wood stove, and a dog pen that’s been home to many faithful mutts over the years.
Aunt Liz puts on meals like nobody’s business. Her Thanksgiving dinners are legendary, her breakfasts the stuff of myths. She’s an excellent cook and baker, but she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few years ago. After mentioning some almond cookies she liked that she’d gotten at an allergy-free store, I decided to go on the hunt for a gluten-free almond cookie that I could make on my own, and I found this one.
Aunt Liz proclaimed it the best cookie she’d ever eaten in her life. The highest of praise, indeed.
- 10 ounces almond paste
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- Powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 325.
Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
Break up almond paste into pieces.
In a mixing bowl, combine almond paste, sugar, and salt until uniformly crumbly.
Gradually add egg whites until dough is smooth and paste-like.
Add almond extract and beat well.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared sheets, leaving ample room in between; I bake six cookies per sheet.
Using a small sieve, generously dust each cookie with powdered sugar.
Bake for 20-22 minutes, until edges are light golden brown.
Cool for several minutes on baking sheets, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
Dust with more powdered sugar if desired.