Sicilian Christmas Sweet Balls.

Last year I pulled the plug on Christmas as I felt that some traditions had run their course, that our traditions needed to be rewritten. Now, as I look back on my 2016 December posts, my outlook didn’t deter me from baking some interesting Christmas sweets. Last year’s Sicilian biscotti were winners for me and mine: I gave away many little parcels of these treats. A few of my readers made these last year, with variations on the theme too, using different fruits and methods.

The first recipe includes dried sour cherries. By all means, use whatever dried fruit you have on hand, remembering to chop or cut it first. This year, I reduced the size of the balls a little, although my photos still show them looking rather large! The recipe produces around 30.

Ready to cook.

Amaretti di Cioccolato e Ciliegia/  Chocolate, cherry and almond biscuits

  • 250 g finely ground almonds
  • 120 g caster sugar
  • 50 g dark ( 70%) chocolate, grated
  • 60 g dried sour cherries, chopped
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 extra-large egg whites, ( 700) or three medium
  • a pinch of salt
  • 30 g icing/confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 160 c.

Mix the almonds, sugar, chocolate, cherries and lemon zest together. Whisk the egg whites until firm and fold it into the almond mixture with the salt. Mix well. The mixture should be damp. If you have used two egg whites and feel that the mixture needs a bit more moisture, beat another until stiff and add it to the mixture.

Place the icing sugar in a bowl. Roll the mixture into small 3cm balls, then toss them into the icing sugar to coat well. Place them on paper lined baking sheets.

Bake until they have a golden tinge, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Makes around 30 balls. 

The other Sicilian Christmas sweets made were almond balls from Agrigento. They fill the room with the heady aroma of spice and honey as they cook. Like the almond and cherry balls, they are dusted in icing sugar before they are cooked. This removes the annoying dusting of sugar snow on your face and clothing when popping these straight into your mouth.

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 orange liquor such as Cointreau, or vanilla`
  • icing/confectioners sugar for coating

Preheat the oven to 150c.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mix all the ingredients together and mix well till the dough is moist. Your hands are the best tools for this task.

Shape into smooth little cakes around 3 cm in diameter.  Roll in icing sugar then place onto a baking paper lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack. Makes around 20.

Dear friends and readers, did you make these sweets last December? What lovely dried fruits did you substitute? I am thinking that chopped fig might go well in the first recipe.

35 thoughts on “Sicilian Christmas Sweet Balls.”

  1. Perfect and timely reminder, thank you Francesca! I’ve mostly cancelled Christmas this year because most of it seemed inappropriate and not enjoyable (mostly by me!) However, our daughter is coming for a few days before Christmas and I wanted to do a small bake that she and I can eat since we both have food sensitivities, and I think these will work. Will see if I can buy sour cherries. I’ll let you know…

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    1. Thank you for the offer of posting the cherries, have found some online and am hoping they will be here in a week. Nothing in either grocery or the health food store here. Meanwhile I have cranberries and sultanas to test the recipe 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I watch all the silliness around me, happening because of a religious, no that should read commercial festival and want to opt out too. I loved your Sicilian sweet treats last year, thanks for the reminder, they were lovely with coffee

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Francesca, I have only managed some shortbread thus far. I have however made 3 lots of seeded crackers and cut them with Christmas cutters. If they count that is 4 Christmas treats I have made. I am back th B’town next week so I can try some sweet treats then.

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  4. Late, late, late as another silly Telstra employee cancelled all of my WordPress blogs last week from my Telstramail! Methinks I’ll get that sorted out in January and use the WP shortcut till then 🙂 ! These look lovely even as far as a non-baker is concerned! As far as Christmas goes, methinks I cancelled that a decade ago and have not been happier to have a ‘private’ holiday since 🙂 ! Get an awful lot done, grin into my non-existent beard and just smile and say ‘Oh. no, I am a Buddhist’ [well, at a stretch!] Back comes the inevitable ‘Ooh! Really!’ and I have a hard time not to laugh!! Thank God for Foxtel in the interim: at least some quietude from the endless Christmas TV ads . . . .

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    1. Bloody Telstra, Ring the ombudsman, or person. Not good enough.
      I always put Buddhist on my forms most of the time, though usually add a bracket ( bad) in front of it. A collapsed catholic turns breaking bad buddhist.

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  5. These were my go-to last year. Perfect for Christmas-lite. They freeze well… 2 small unexpected visitors tubs remain in the freezer having escaped the G.O.s notice. They are great as gifts too. I experimented with substituions of whatever I had to hand. My Instagram pic of the 4th batch and comments note I used combos of lemon/orange zest, white/dark chocolate, cranberries/sultanas, ground macadamias/lsa. And also, Aquafaba as I commented above.
    They have been on my mind… I imagine I will make a batch as the season progresses.

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    1. Hi Dale, Ah yes, I remember you made some interesting versions of these. Using up some LSA is a brilliant idea. I can recommend the fruitless ones- the second lot- more spicy tasting like Christmas. I’m about to do a big batch for gifting to neigbours.

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  6. Belated Christmas wishes Francesca, hope you’ve found some new (or old) Christmas traditions that work for you. I read last year’s post and agree on the pudding ice cream, I used some year old pud last year in an ice cream terrine with glace cherries – bliss! These almond biscuits sound delicious, and always good to have another GF option… I might bookmark for later though, as I don’t think I can justify baking another thing at this point 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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