Amaretti Cookies

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Amaretti Cookie photoI haven’t found anything to date made with almond extract that I don’t love. These Amaretti cookies which are Italy’s version of a macaroon are a perfect example. Crunchy, gluten free and low in fat, these are the perfect accompaniment to lightly sweetened or macerated fresh fruit or ice cream.

While these can be found in Italian grocery stores, it can be difficult to find them in state side grocery stores. But Amaretti cookies are so easy to make you don’t have to search them out anymore.

There are several ways to make them. I prefer to use almond paste rather than ground almond. No matter how much the almonds are pulverized  in the processor, they will never be as smooth as almond paste with its distinctive bitter almond flavoring. Do not use marzipan. While almond paste is an ingredient in marzipan, it is not pure almond paste.  My store carries an eight ounce package which is perfect for this recipe.

To make these Amaretti cookies authentic,  pearl sugar should be used to top them. It can be found on the internet or in many kitchen ware shops. It is a type of sugar that is intensely white in irregular, large pieces and it doesn’t melt under heat. Perfect to finish a number of recipes including the Amaretti cookies. I use Lars Imported Swedish Pearl Sugar because it is locally available.Pearl Sugar box Pearl sugar

This is a classic recipe for Amaretti cookies which I found on http://www.joyofbaking.com/AmarettiCookies.html.  While Stephanie describes her Amaretti cookies as crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, mine are the traditional crunchy all they way through variety.  There is no right or wrong.   There are only 3 ingredients for these delightful cookies – almond paste, egg whites and sugar. That’s it. When making any meringue or macaroon, baker’s sugar is preferred for its fine grind that is accepted by the egg whites more easily. However, it can be very difficult to find if you don’t have access to professional ingredients.   Or you don’t want 25 pounds hanging around.  But it is easily made in a processor. Simply put the sugar in the processor and process until very finely ground. There you are – baker’s sugar.

While these Amaretti cookies can be made in a mixer, the processor is the better of the two for this recipe. The almond paste can be difficult to get mixed completely with the sugar so one cannot be seen from the other.

For another version, sandwich two cookies together with chocolate.

Amaretti cookies are literally minutes away and require very little work for such a special treat. These will keep almost indefinitely in a closed tin.

Amaretti CookiesIngredients for Amaretti Cookies1 cup sugar (200 grams or 7 ounces)
8 ounces almond paste (225 grams)
2 large egg whites (60 grams or 2 ounces
Swedish pearl sugar or granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the sugar in the processor and process until finely ground.Sugar processed to make baker's sugar

Cut the almond paste into small piecesAlmond paste from the box Almond paste cut up to be processedand add it to the sugar. Almond paste with sugar in the processorProcess until the two are indistinguishable from each other and it is fluffy.Almond paste and sugar processed together

Add the egg whites Egg whites added to the almond paste mixtureand process until a thick batter forms.Amaretti Cookie batter finished

Amaretti cookie batter on spatulaFit a piping bag with a 3/4 inch plain tip. Fill the bag with the batter and pipe 1 1/2 inch mounds about 1 inch apart. Piping Amaretti cookiesSince I am not particularly good at getting piped cookies all the same size, I use a plain 1 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to draw circles with a marker on parchment paper. I place this on the baking sheet and cover it with a second piece of parchment. Then just hold the bag about 1/2 inch up from the baking sheet and pipe to fill the circle. There you have it, perfect little Amaretti cookies.Parchment paper over drawn circle template

You will have a point on the top of your piped cookie where you pull the bag away. Amaretti cookies piped with pointsTo make these cookies dome shaped without the point, wet your finger and gently press the point down even with the rest of the cookie.Flattening the point on the Amaretti cookiesFlattening point on Amaretti cookies

Sprinkle with the pearl sugar or, lacking that, regular granulated sugar. Finishing with Pearl sugarUnbaked tray of Amaretti cookiesBake for about 15 to 18 minutes until deeply golden brown and little cracks appear on the top of the cookie.Amaretti cookies baked

Let them cool completely on the parchment. They should remove very easily if baked long enough. If they stick, you can go under them with a spatula or turn the whole sheet over and wipe the bottom of the cookies with a damp paper towel.

Yield: Approximately 40 cookies

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11 thoughts on “Amaretti Cookies

  1. Manisha

    Hi Helen,

    I tasted Amarettis at Venice today and they were soo good that I could not stop at one. They were more spongy and not crispy at all yet the texture and flavour were divine.

    I am on a strict diet for the past one month and have been completely off sweets. Even during this trip I have been eating just a spoon or two of the desserts. Almond flavour has this hypnotising effect on me. I ate one amaretti then the second and third. Also bought a packet of it to take it back with me.

    This recipe will surely be made soon. We do not get almond paste so I plan to make my own.

    Many thanx

    Love

    1. hfletcher Post author

      I agree with you. I love anything with almond extract in it. One of my favorite combinations is almond extract and tahitian vanilla. Happy you are having such a good time.

  2. Manisha

    Hi Helen,

    These look soo delicious. Just the photographs are making my mouth water. Leaving for Italy for couple of weeks. I will surely try them there and make them once I am back :)

    I am noticing that due to high humidity my cookies tend to loose the crunch when cooling down even in an air conditioned room. Is there a trick to prevent this?

    Love

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Manisha: So happy to hear about your exciting trip to Italy. I know you will have a wonderful time. I do not know what to do about high humidity. It is a problem anywhere. If anyone has a suggestion, please share it here. I know, here is St. Louis, famous for its humidity, I have to be careful about making certain things on days when it is high. Have fun.

      1. Manisha

        Thanx Helen.

        To avoid the immediate effect of humidity on the cookies specially when they are cooling on the racks, I was thinking of replacing a part of butter with shortening. Just thinking of this, haven’t tried it yet. Lemme know your thoughts on it.

        Love

    2. Rockyrd

      Hi Helen,
      Do you think the addition of bakers ammonia would help to keep the amaretti crunchy? I live by the ocean and have used it in other cookies to help them to stay crisp.
      We like hard crisp type cookies so I put 1/4 -1/2 tsp in a recipe like biscotti or others.

      1. hfletcher Post author

        That may well work. The other thing to do if you like them to stay crispy, is bake them longer. If you have seen the packaged variety from Italy they are very, very brown. Couple those 2 together and you may just have something that works.

        1. Rockyrd

          yes the pastries and breads are always baked a lot darker in France and Italy than the U.S.
          I just ordered some more baking ammonia and will try some in the amaretti.

  3. Rockyrd

    Hi Helen,
    I love reading your site and own your pastry book. Great!
    I am writing to comment on your amaretti. This is similar to how we make them too. I am a retired chef/ pastry chef after working 30+ years in NY. I used to make a lot of amaretti and we would always let them sit to dry after being piped. For several hours or overnite. I was taught that way by an Italian chef. It was supposed to make them drier therefore crunchy. I never saw this technique written but know only a few who do it.
    I am always learning and still study baking techniques.
    Thanks for such interesting reading.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Thank you so much for letting me know about drying them first. I have used this technique with a German cookie, anise puffs or anise drops as well as the French macaroons. I am going to remake these using this technique and will blog about it shortly. I so appreciate when others share their expertise here so we can all learn from it. Also thank you for your kind comments. They are especially appreciated by another professional.

Comments are closed.