RECIPE: Amaretti for the Holidays
As some of you may know, I am a first generation Italian. SO there are certain cookies around the holidays that are a must, like the tri-colored Neopolitans, or Struffoli, or Cartellate. One cookie we keep trying to tackle every year is the treasured Amaretti. We've tried my Aunt Silvana's recipe, my Aunt Rita's recipe, with huge fails. (I have often wondered if my Aunts left out steps on purpose-Italian women are competitive with their baking.) Then we moved on to famous chefs, trying a Batali and a Giada recipe. Those were bigger fails then even my Aunts' recipes, with the dough spreading out flat and burning on our trays.
We vowed to try one last time this year, and what we found out in our research was that yes, one of our Aunts missed a step (whipping eggs into stiff peaks). Also, some recipes added lemon zest that seemed funky to us. We also discovered that you need not-so-fine almond meal and very, very fine sugar. The fine sugar gives you the soft on the inside, crispy on the outside texture. But the big learning was almond meal versus almond flour (too fine and oily, and your Amaretti goes flat) or grinding it yourself (too course and crumbly). To get a clearer understanding of the differences check out this post.
We were thrilled with our Amaretti. We could not stop eating them, we barely had enough for our cookie plates for neighbors. We adapted this recipe from the blog kitchen sanctuary, and we give a big hats off to her. After all, I think we went through 5 recipes over the years before we found something successful!
We made some minor changes below, but the key is using a scale to measure your dry ingredients. If you want to skip the Amaretto, double your almond extract to keep that rich almond flavor, which is what this cookie is known for.
3 egg whites from large eggs, room temp
9.9 oz. almond meal (see comments above)
9.9 oz. “Baker’s sugar” or Caster sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. almond liquor like Amaretto
¼ cup or so of Bakers or Caster sugar in a bowl
Line baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 325˚.
With a mixer, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold in the sugar, almonds, both extracts and liquor. This is tricky, try not to overwork but make sure everything is well combined. Combine until the dough is a thick paste and can be formed into a ball, but it will be sticky.
By using a small teaspoon, scoop out some dough and shape/roll it with your hands and roll it in the sugar. Place on the baking sheet. Continue on with the rest of the dough, spacing the balls about 2 inches or so apart.
Using wet fingers, pat the balls slightly down.
Store in an airtight container for about a week.