Almond Cookies

James Beard

Author and Educator

Flourless almond cookies made with ground almonds and sugar bound with eggs, then dipped in honey syrup, have been a traditional North African sweetmeat for centuries. Variations of the recipe appeared in medieval Arab manuscripts found in Baghdad, according to Claudia Roden in Arabesque (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006). Many of these recipes include a small amount of orange-flower or orange blossom water, a delicate yet intensely perfumed liquid made by distilling the blossom of the sour orange tree. It adds a wonderful, distinctive flavor to any dish. You can buy orange-flower water in most specialty food stores or via the internet.


  • Dough:

  • 1 1/4 lbs. blanched almonds, finely ground
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 eggs
  • Flour for dusting
  • Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon orange-flower water
  • Confectioner’s sugar


Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a bowl, stir together almonds, sugar, and lemon peel until thoroughly mixed. Make a well in the center, drop in eggs, and stir until smooth.

Divide batter in half, and roll each half on a well-floured surface into a cylinder about 18” long and 1½“ in diameter. Flour your hands frequently as you roll the dough. Flatten cylinders into oblongs about 2” wide and cut into diagonal 1½” slices.

Dust with flour and place about an inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

To make the syrup, combine sugar and water in a pan and place over low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Remove from heat and let cool. Add orange-flower water. Dip cookies into syrup, then roll in confectioner’s sugar.


3 dozen cookies