These cookies owe their spicy bite to a dose of freshly-ground white pepper. They are a staple at Christmas in the city of Teramo and keep well for weeks in an airtight tin. Tradition dictates that they be dipped in vino cotto or sweet wine at meal’s end.
2 cups almond flour
1 cup honey
½ teaspoon freshly-ground white pepper
pinch of salt
grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra if needed
Vino Cotto di Montillo
Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Line an 11- x 17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
Pour the honey into a 1-quart pot and heat over a medium flame until it is boiling.
Add the almond flour, pepper, salt, and orange zest, and stir with a wooden spoon to combine thoroughly. Turn off burner.
Add the all-purpose flour by the tablespoon until a firm, solid dough forms, stirring all the while; you may not need all of the flour. (Note: If a dough fails to form, add more flour by the tablespoon until the ingredients gather around the spoon.)
Allow the dough to cool for about 5 minutes before handling.
Transfer the cooled dough onto a lightly-floured counter and cut into 2 pieces. Shape each piece into a flat 2-inch-wide log. Place the logs on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until set but still pale. Cool 5 minutes, then slice into 1/4-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Cool on a tray and store in an airtight tin for up to 4 weeks.