4 December 2007
AMARETTI These well known Italian almond cookies, get their name from the Italian word ‘amaro’ meaning ‘bitter’ as they are made with bitter almonds & ‘etti’ indicating that they are small. Don’t be scared off, as most of you know, these cookies are anything but bitter, and the ones I make are not small!
Though I have to say that the Nona’s out there must have a hidden family secret or simply a magic fairy in the pantry, that allows them to make this recipe perfectly every time. Let’s just say that I was a ‘virgin amaretti maker’ a ‘babe in the kitchen’ and was in serious need of 1. a pair of training wheels 2. a Nona with a black belt in Italian patisserie and 3. to “borrow” that little magic fairy….
As my 1st attempt produced a very sad, poor excuse for amaretti …. they were lifeless and flat, and while the exterior was shiny & crispy, the biggest disappointment was yet to come – as biting into the cookie you were to discover – NOTHING, AIR, VOID, HOLLOW SPACE…. oooh that cannot be good I though.
So I went back to the drawing board. After much reading & baking, I came accross Yvonne’s recipe for amaretti’s. For this I have to say ‘chapeau’, my hat goes off to her – so impressed was I with these cookies, that I was inspired to create my own version based on her recipe - omitting the cocoa powder & almond decoration, and using pure almond essence. These amaretti cookies are easy to make, have a lovely almond taste and a wonderfully soft centre!
RECIPE - SWEET PEA BLOG
- 680g (1 1/2 pounds) ground almonds (almond meal)
- 440g (2 cups) white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond essence (see NOTES below)
- 30g of icing sugar for dusting the tops of the amaretti
- 2 pinches of salt
- Position the oven rack so that it is at the bottom of the oven.
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F)
- Check that your ground almonds are as fine as possible. You can always pass them through a blender to make sure.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground almonds, salt and sugar, mixing well with a fork.
- Next mix in the eggs (all at once – no need to beat in advance), and almond essence.
- Line two cookie sheet with baking paper, and using a tablespoon, make round balls of cookie dough and place them on the baking sheet (leaving 2cm of space between each).
- Cook for 10 minutes on the lowest rack in the oven, then move the rack to the middle of the oven and bake of an additional 5 minutes.Leave to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes. Then transfer to a cooling rack.
- Using a small sieve, sprinkle each cookie with a light dust of powder (icing) sugar.
NOTES: if you take 100g of whole almonds and grind them = 100g ground almonds. Yvonne’s recipe calls for 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa which is a nice alternative and should be combined with the almonds/sugar/salt. She also rolls her amaretti cookies in white sugar before baking them which you may prefer – instead of dusting them with icing sugar. If you do not have pure almond essence and are using almond extract (which is not as strong), you will need to using about 3 tablespoons in total – taste as you go!!