An Amaretti cookie is a cookie with attitude. It is an elegant bite of crunchy, chewy wonderfulness, heady with the perfume of almonds, perfect with exactly the right amount of sweetness.
Amaretti cookies are definitely not your common, home-baked cookie one encounters in North America. This Italian confection dates as far back as the 1700s, and is ancestor of the ubiquitous French macaron. It is a cookie equally at ease with a cup of coffee or tea, or a glass of sparkling Prosecco.
Amaretti cookies have the same almond base and deliciously chewy texture of a French macaron, but unlike the macaron it is a snap to make. One simply whips up egg whites, folds in sugar and ground almonds and rolls the morsels in sugar. There’s very much a Christmas feel about amaretti cookies. They are so decadently, deliciously different.
Don’t wait for Christmas to bake these cookies. This is stoned fruit season, and these cookies are a marriage made in heaven when you serve them with home-made peach ice cream.
|AMARETTI COOKIES . . .|| |
- 3½ cups almond flour (ground almonds available at bulk food stores). Store any unused almond flour in your refrigerator or freezer to ensure freshness.
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- A sparse ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon almond extract (not artificial almond)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the coating:
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons icing sugar(also called powdered sugar, confectioners' sugar, 10X sugar)
- Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat your to 350F.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the ground almonds, sugar and the whisper of salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites JUST until they hold stiff peaks. It is important you do not over whip the egg whites. They will become dry and impossible to fold into the almond mixture.
- Transfer the egg whites to a large, wide shallow bowl and gently fold in half of the almond mixture. Then fold in the remaining almond mixture.
- Gently fold in the almond and vanilla extracts. The dough will be like a thickish paste.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for a good 45 minutes.
- Place the granulated sugar and icing sugar on two separate large plates.
- Portion the dough and roll into 1-inch balls. A small ice cream scoop works beautifully.
- Roll each ball gently, first briefly in the granulated sugar, then generously in the icing sugar, and place on the lined baking sheet about 3 inches apart. The cookies don't really spread but you want them to bake evenly.
- Use the back of a spoon to LIGHTLY press down the top of each ball to flatten them every so slightly.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden on the edges. For even baking, rotate the sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through.
- Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.