One of the easiest and most delicious cookies in all of Italy, made in almost every region from north to south including the islands, are amaretti cookies made with ground almonds, sugar, egg whites and little more.
You can find large amaretti cookies that have whole almonds if you are in Sardinia, or small, dry and hard amaretti cookies in Northern Italy, or even a soft, spongy version on the Ligurian coast.
This is the perfect recipe for small, slightly chewy amaretti cookies, similar to an Italian macaroon, that are super easy to make.
The recipe calls for just six simple ingredients and the cookies have the most amazing taste and texture. They last a long time and make a great gift at Christmas in a mixed cookie plate for your friends and family or to serve as a quick and delicious dessert that will earn you 5 stars.
Here are all the ingredients you’ll need for tasty amaretti almond cookies:
Get Ready. Preheat oven to 340° F (170° C).
Make the amaretti cookies dough. Start by putting the almonds (or almond flour), half the granulated sugar, and half the egg whites into the food processor (photo 1). Blend everything together on pulse until obtaining an even, sandy-looking mixture that is fairly firm. Add the remaining white sugar and egg whites. Add the baker’s ammonia and the almond extract and blend in the processor until creamy, light and very well mixed (photo 2).
Form the cookies. Put the cookie dough into a piping or pastry bag with a very large round tip (photo 3). Cover a baking sheet or tray with parchment paper. Squeeze out small balls of the same size in a single layer evenly spaced out on the covered tray.
Remember to leave space for each amaretti cookie to expand slightly during the baking process. If the cookies are too round or have a point at the top you can wet your finger with water and use it to gently shape the cookies to make them more flat and even (photo 4). Sprinkle a little sifted icing sugar on the surface of each cookie.
Bake the amaretti cookies. Bake at 340° F (170° C) for 20-25 minutes. Remove the baked cookies from the oven when golden, be sure not to let the cookies turn golden brown. Let the cookies cool completely.
Dust with more sugar and serve. Once you have let them cool at room temperature, you can dust them again with icing sugar before serving and then enjoy these tasty amaretti cookies!
Other traditional Italian cookies to try:
You can store amaretti cookies in a cookie tin or sealed jar for up to one week at room temperature.
You can freeze baked amaretti cookies by letting them cool completely and then placing them flat in a zip-lock bag to freeze them. They can be kept frozen for up to 6 months. Or, we actually prefer freezing the dough balls before they are cooked in the same way and then baking them directly frozen by following the directions below.
No! Amaretto and amaretti are not the same thing. Amaretto is an almond flavored liqueur, while amaretti are scrumptious cookies make with ground almonds.
The origins of amaretti cookies goes back hundreds of years, at least to the 17th century, with the most accepted story claiming they were invented in Saronno, a town north of Milan. Legend has it that on the day a cardinal was visiting the town, a provincial baker had only sugar, egg whites and apricot kernels on hand and so he whipped them together, baked the cookies and offered them to the visiting cardinal who loved them.
The most widely-known brand is without a doubt Lazzaroni, a company that popularized the individually wrapped “Amaretti di Saronno” cookies in colorful cookie tins that are often given as gifts at Christmas time.
The name amaretti comes from the word “amaro” which means bitter, because originally they were made with ground apricot kernels or bitter almonds. Today, for the most part, the apricot kernels have been replaced with blanched almonds or almond flour and they are definitely more sweet than bitter!