1 pound almond paste (see note)
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large egg whites
1 pound (31/2 to 4 cups) slivered or sliced almonds, or pine nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly butter sheets. Break almond paste into pieces; place in mixing bowl with sugar. Break up almond paste with your fingers or an electric mixer, crumbling ingredients together as you would for a pie crust, until evenly combined.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Stir a little of the egg whites into the almond mixture; it will be fairly dry. Fold in remaining whites. Place almonds or pine nuts in a shallow bowl. Roll almond paste mixture into 1-inch balls, keeping them as round as possible. Press each ball into nuts and gently turn to coat evenly; they will look like little porcupines. Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake cookies until evenly pale gold, 15 to 17 minutes.
Cool cookies in pans on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. With a spatula, carefully transfer cookies to rack to cool completely. These macaroons keep well; store in an airtight container.
Note: Be sure to weigh almond paste carefully. If you use too little, the cookie mixture will be loose and much harder to work with.
Makes about 4 dozen.
From Carolyn Jung, food writer, San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News