More Christmas Balls. Almond Flowers from Agrigento

A few days ago, I made a batch of Sicilian Cherry and Chocolate Amaretti, (Amaretti di Cioccolato e Cilegie ). They disappeared too quickly: some were wrapped up and given away, others popped into our own merry mouths. Sicilian sweets taste so evocative, medieval and ancient. All the flavours of the island seem to be rolled up in these little festive biscuits- dried fruits and figs, orange and lemon peel, Marsala wine, Arabic spices, honey, almonds, pine nuts and pistachio, to name a just a few ingredients favoured by the Siciliani.

Ready to go out the door. Fior di Mandorle.

This year’s festive cooking is beginning to look like a cook’s tour around Sicily. Last week Siracusa, now today’s festive balls, Fior di Mandorle, a specialty of Agrigento. Come to Sicily with me this month as I delve into my collected recipes from each major town. Map provided, in aid of travel fantasy.

I love a good map.
I love a good map.

Fior di Mandorle.  Almond pastries with honey and spice

  • 200 g freshly ground almonds or almond meal
  • 50 g/3 tablespoons of fragrant clear honey
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • grated zest of  1 small organic orange
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1  large, or two very small beaten egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • icing/confectioners sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 150c.

Mix all the ingredients together, then knead until the oils from the almonds are released into the pastry.

Shape into smooth little cakes around 3 cm in diameter. Place onto a baking paper lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack, then dust generously with icing sugar. Makes around 20.

Adapted from Flavours of Sicily, Ursula Ferrigno 2016.

Fior di Mandorle. A taste of honey and spice. Very Arabic.

My next Sicilian instalment will be Nucatoli, from Modica, which are similar to last year’s Cuddureddi, but come in an amazing shape.

23 thoughts on “More Christmas Balls. Almond Flowers from Agrigento”

    1. My almond obsession is a result of the purchase of Kilo bags from Bas foods for $15. No time for the bag to go stale.Plus a rather generous supply of honey from a friend’s hive.


  1. How easy are these! I just happen to have some egg whites left over forming yolks and an orange or two from our tree looking like it needs to be used. Do you know if they keep reasonably well or do you always ‘scoff’ them too quickly to know?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some years ago I spent a few days in Agrigento, which was beautiful and full of fantastic Greek antiquities. Thanks for reminding me of the place and thanks for the recipe!

    best… mae at

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, Francesca. Why are you complicating my life? I was very happy to make your Cherry and Chocolate Amaretti, intent on giving them to dear friends who recently visited Syracusa. How very appropriate, I thought. Now you share a recipe that originated in Agrigento, an area they they also visited based on my recommendations. (I loved walking among the temples’ ruins.) Now what do I do? “Bake both” is not an option, for I would eat far too many of them, no doubt about it. I’ll figure something out.
    Thanks for sharing another tasty, albeit life affecting, recipe. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you should make the cherry ones first John. If I had to pick, I would go with Siracusa. And if I had to pick a town to go back to, this would be on my agenda too. Just planning our trip for 2017 now….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OK then. It’s decided. You’ve never led me astray , so, it’s the cherry ones from Siracusa. Those, along with my family’s biscotti, will be very well-received, I’m sure. Planning your trip? What fun! I enjoy the planning almost as much as the actual trip, “almost” being the key word. I look forward to hearing more …
        Thanks for your help, Francesca.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Nothing says “I’m going!” like purchasing the tickets. Good for you! Cannot wait to hear more of your plans.
            As for the amaretti, I made them and true to form, I had to make a second batch. Quality assurance took its toll, I’m afraid, while that kitchen elf apparently just couldn’t help himself. The second batch is in the basement freezer, well out of sight and harm’s way – I hope. Thanks for sharing your great recipe, Francesca.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Did they work out ok for you John? Not sure what your quality assurance taking its toll meant? All ovens are a little different so sometimes they need to stay in longer?
              I know what you mean about a second batch- I have now made four batches, including the easier honey version, and these get given away to hungry elves.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I had absolutely no problems, Francesca, following your recipe. Sorry it I did not make that clear. Much like my kitchen elf, quality assurance always finds a reason to take a few of whatever I’m baking .. and then a few more … and a few more … etc.
                If I hadn’t put the 2n batch in the basement freezer, I’d be gathering ingredients to make another. Thanks, again. 🙂


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