Yield: 3 dozen cookies
2¼ cups blanched whole almonds, plus more for garnishing
2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
15 glazed cherries or other fruit
Lightly oil two large baking sheets; line with parchment paper. In food processor, combine almonds and 1/3 cup sugar. Process until finely ground, scraping down sides once or twice. Set aside. In electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt at high speed until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to medium and gradually add remaining sugar. Return speed to high; beat mixture until stiff, shiny peaks form. Gently fold in ground almond mixture; add almond and vanilla extracts. Roll mixture into one-inch balls, place two inches apart on baking sheets; flatten slightly. Top each with cherry or almond. Bake in 350°F oven until cookies are golden, about 20 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes; transfer to racks to cool completely. Store, wrapped in walk-in for several days or freeze up to three weeks. For service, re-crisp in warm oven.
Cook’s note: For Amarettini cookies (mini versions), make into ½-inch balls; reduce cooking time to 15 minutes.