The name of this small Italian Christmas cookie means ‘little bitter one’. Amaretti (singular: amaretto) are made from a mixture of finely ground bitter almonds, ordinary almonds and sweet fluffy whipped egg whites. The nicely bitter-sweet cookies bake at a low temperature and become deliciously crunchy outside while the inside stays slightly chewy. The story goes that this little brittle cookie was baked for the first time in the 18th century by a young couple celebrating the visit of a Milanese bishop to the city of Saronno. The bishop was so impressed that he blessed the couple and wished them a happy and lifelong marriage. And yes, they lived happily ever after. Luckily the recipe for amaretti cookies had an even longer life and we can still enjoy them today!
Amaretti cookie from Italy
for about 30 cookies
20 grams (⅛ cup) bitter almonds (available online)
you can also use ordinary almonds, but you do not get that delicious bitterness
140 grams (1 cup) white almonds
140 (⅔ cup) sugar
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 170°C / 350°F. Put unpeeled bitter almonds in a bowl and pour boiling water over.
Leave to soak for 5 min. and squeeze the almonds out of their husk. Pat dry.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Finely grind all the almonds and 120 grams / ½ cup sugar in a food processor.
Beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. Then add the rest of the sugar spoon by spoon while whisking. Beat until stiff peaks form and the mixture is smooth and shiny.
Carefully fold the almond mixture into the egg white and place in a piping bag with a small round nozzle (ø 13 mm / ½ inch).
Hold piping bag and nozzle facing directly down onto the pan and pipe small marble-sized buttons. Keep enough space between them because they will spread. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes until light brown and done. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet.
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