RECIPE: Amaretti Nutella Sandwich Cookies
Amaretti are basically an almond macaroon, and a staple in Italian cuisine. My mother and I have a slew of different recipes and versions of Amaretti, but these caught my eye. They are a simple-if not messy-cookie to make. It is based on an Epicurious recipe I found, that had these guys sandwiched together with nothing in the middle. With all that work, I wondered, what was the point? So after some culinary musings, I decided to try Nutella in the middle, and the flavor is amazing. They yield about 24 cookies after sandwiching, if you make them small. I left some "unsandwiched" for my purist Italian family.
Now, as much as I hate using a piping bag, it does give you control over this gooey batter, and allows you to make them as small as you need to. Also, the parchment is important for this because of the steaming step that lets these cuties lift off easily and be chewy in the middle. The net-net is, don't skimp on the steps, and you'll be happy.
Amaretti Nutella Sandwich Cookies
7 oz. almond paste in a can or tube
2/3 cup granulated sugar (maybe a scant less, when measuring. Go a little under that)
2 large egg whites, at room temp. for 30 minutes
1/2 cup, more or less, of Nutella or other hazelnut-chocolate spread
In a food processor, crumble the almond paste, and pulse until evenly loosened. Add the sugar and pulse again until crumbled finely. As the processor is going, add the egg whites. Process until very smooth and thick. Now its ready to be spooned in to a pastry bag with a1/4 inch tip-1/2 inch tip. I used a slightly ridged tip to add some flair but you can also use a simple, plain tip, too.
Pipe1/2-3/4" wide circular mounds about 1 1/2" apart on the sheet. Bake for about 18 minutes, switching levels and turning them half way through. The cookies are done when they ever so slightly brown on the tips and are a pale white color. Take out from the oven and place on a heatproof surface.
Working quickly and carefully (I burned myself during my Amaretti adventure, so be careful!), pour a tablespoon or so of water under the parchment paper and lean the pans on an angle so the water travels under all the cookies. You will hear a sizzle and see steam. The steam will release the cookies and create the chewy center you want. Carefully lift them off the steamed parchment with a metal spatula and cool on wire racks. (careful, not too much water and don't let them sit too long, chewy can turn SOGGY quickly!)
When cool, spread a thin layer of Nutella on the bottom of a cookie and sandwich to another Amaretti cookie. Store in a airtight container for 1-2 days (any longer and they get dry). They can be frozen for up to 3 months. Continue until finished. You can try low sugar jams or other nut spreads in the middle. Make up your own and have fun! MMMM, little nibble of Heaven.