MAKES: 3 to 4 dozen

TIME: About 21/2 hours, largely unattended

Finely chopped nuts, sugar, and egg whites are the base of this cookie; the nuts add flavor and texture, while the sugar and egg whites make them crisp and chewy, sort of like a flat macaroon. Don’t let the time deter you; two hours of it is just for chilling, which can be done overnight too, making this a great make-ahead recipe.

3 cups almonds

11/2 cups granulated sugar

5 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

11/2 cups chopped dried cherries

Confectioners sugar for dusting (optional)

Put the almonds and granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely chopped.

Put the egg whites in a large bowl and beat until foamy; add the vanilla and beat a bit more. Gradually add the almond mixture and cherries, stirring until a loose, sticky dough forms. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350В°F. Put teaspoon-size or larger mounds of dough about 3 inches apart on nonstick baking sheets or sheets lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake until lightly browned and hardened on the outside, 20 to 25 minutes. (Keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator while the first batch bakes.) Cool the cookies completely on the sheets, then remove with a spatula. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving if you like. These keep well in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Variations

Chewy Mocha Cookies. Always a good combination; hazelnuts are excellent here: Substitute 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and 11/2 tablespoons instant espresso or coffee for the cherries. Proceed with the recipe.

Chewy Chestnut Cookies. Fresh roasted chestnuts are the best: Substitute 3 cups roasted, peeled, and mashed chestnuts (see Boiled, Grilled, or Roasted Chestnuts) for the almonds and omit the cherries.