These cookies are a tradition during Lent (Quaresima) in Florence, Italy. They are easy, low in fat, and fun to make with children. If you are not a strict observer of Lent, you might use the egg yolks left over from this recipe to make schiacciata alla fiorentina, a festive flat bread popular with Florentines in the earlier season of Carnevale.
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons flour
Preheat the oven to 300° F.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat egg whites and salt until foamy. Add superfine sugar slowly, beating until stiff, but not dry, peaks are formed. Sift powdered sugar and cocoa over beaten eggs and use a spatula to combine ingredients well. Don't worry about deflating the mixture. Sift flour over the mixture, again using a spatula to combine ingredients.
Transfer mixture to a pastry bag equipped with a number 10 tip. (You may substitute a large plastic sandwich bag and snip a 1/4-inch diameter hole off of its corner.) Pipe 2-inch letters of the alphabet onto parchment paper or, preferably, a nonstick baking mat. You can put them close together, because they won't spread. Bake for 12 minutes. If you use parchment paper, then remove the cookies from the paper the moment they come out of the oven. In any case, remove them with a spatula while still warm.
Makes about 24 cookies.