Day 3: Amaretti
Posted by loavesandstitches
Have you noticed that many fancy Christmas cookie recipes have nuts in them? This is only my third post about cookies and every one so far is a nut cookie. I suppose nuts are an expensive ingredient, so they are often seen as luxury food items for special occasions.
For me, this cookie is an attempt to reproduce an Italian almond cookie that we get sometimes from a local Italian bakery. At the bakery, they call it an almond cookie and it is really chock full of sliced almonds with a chewy center. I really had high hopes that this recipe would be similar to those cookies because I am tired of paying over $10 a pound for these cookies!
I found this recipe in Baking with Julia and was really surprised that I had never tried them. There are really very few things I have not made from this book. Anyway, remembering my past experiences with almond paste, I decided to depart from the mixing method, which called for using a stand mixer. Almond paste tends to be hard to break up, so I mixed everything in the food processor instead.
It worked like a charm and was done in just a few minutes. Then, instead of piping out the dough, I scooped it with my smallest cookie scoop and rolled them in sliced almonds.
I say rolled, but it was more like pressing as many almonds as would stick onto and into that little ball of dough. The cookies I get from the bakery are more almonds than dough, I think.
When the cookies came out of the oven, I really did a happy dance around the kitchen. They look almost exactly like the ones from the bakery. Those are little more chock full of almonds, but I think I actually prefer these.
These are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside and really fragrant with the almonds and almond paste. They were super easy and now I don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for one of my favorite cookies. That makes me very happy.
What makes you happy during this holiday season? Leave a comment for a chance to win a tin full of cookies!
AMARRETI or Italian Almond Cookies
Makes about 24
The original recipe calls for the cookies to be topped with pine nuts. You could really use any nut that you like; pine nuts, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts would all be good.
8 ounce can of almond paste
5.25 ounces (3/4) cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
2-4 cups sliced almonds or other chopped nut
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and make sure your oven racks are evenly spaced.
Break up the almond paste into pieces and place in the food processor with half of the sugar. Pulse until the almond paste is completely broken up. Then, add the remaining sugar and pulse until uniform. It may appear a little fluffy. Add the egg whites, one at a time, and pulse until the dough balls up on the blade a little.
Scoop out level teaspoons of dough, about one inch balls. It is very sticky, so drop them directly into a shallow bowl of nuts. Roll each dough ball in the nuts, pressing the nuts gently into the dough. If the dough gets really sticky, you can dip your scoop into some water and shake off the excess water before proceeding with the scooping. Place dough balls onto a lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through the baking time if you have more than one pan in the oven at a time. They should be golden brown. Place pans on racks and let cool completely.
These will keep for up to a week in a sealed container, though they will get drier as they sit.
I only baked one pan and froze the rest of the dough balls because I wanted to see if they would be good that way, too. I will let you know what happens when I bake them.