Almond-flavored cookies are popular in Italy in general, and even more so around the holiday season. This super easy recipe for Italian amaretti is naturally gluten and dairy free, making it a go-to around the holidays for those with dietary restrictions without sacrificing the flavor!
Amaretti Cookies in Italy
There are many different types of almond cookies in Italy. These amaretti are slightly crunchier than ricciarelli, a popular Tuscan almond cookie. They hail from Sicily, where almonds are a major crop.
You can use almond instead of almond flour and grind them in a food processor with the sugar, but we’re all for cutting corners during the business of holiday prep!
In Italy you will traditionally find amaretti made with a small portion of bitter almond flour or ground apricot pits (which has a strangely almond-y flavor), but both are hard to find in the U.S.
How to Serve Amaretti
Amaretti are a great addition to any holiday cookie tray. They are also wonderful served alongside an espresso or amaro (a bitter or herbal Italian digestif) after a big meal. You can even serve then with Amaretto liqueur for a real almond-flavored extravaganza, although we find that a bit too much sweetness.
This recipe makes roughly 4 dozen cookies, and you could easily bag up a dozen in a decorative holiday bakery bag to give as gifts.
You can bake and serve them plain, or dip or roll them in powdered sugar or shaved almonds. Or, you could drizzle them with chocolate, or even press a single almond into the top. There is no wrong way!
Recipe for Amaretti Cookies
Serves: 48 cookies
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Cook method: Bake
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 4 1/2 cups almond flour
- pinch of salt
- powdered sugar or shaved almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine the dry ingredients.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. You can do this with a stand mixer, an electric hand held, or even with a hand whisk.
4. Gently stir in the almond extra, then mix in the dry ingredients in batches. You don’t have to worry about deflating the egg whites, just make sure everything is incorporated. The dough will seem mealy and dry. I find the best way to really incorporate it is to finish it off by hand with a quick kneading.
5. Once incorporated, the dough will be sticky. Use a 1 inch scoop to form balls of dough, rolling them in your hands to pack them together and smooth their shape. Dip in either powdered sugar or shaved almonds before placing on the baking sheet (you can also skip this step if you prefer).
6. Slightly flatten the tops with your hands.
7. Bake the cookies for about 25 minutes. They will crack a bit as they bake, and you will know they are ready when they are just barely golden brown. The longer you bake them, the less chewy and more crispy the final texture.
8. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
By Peg Kern
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