8 ounces (225 grams) almond paste, broken into small pieces
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar (or superfine white sugar)
2 large (60 grams) egg whites, at room temperature
Swedish pearl sugar, sparkling or granulated white sugar for dusting cookies
Amaretti Cookies: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. To make all the cookies the same size, I like to make a template. Take a piece of parchment paper and draw 20 - 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) circles, spacing the circles about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Place the template under your parchment paper so you can use it as a guide.
Place the sugar in the bowl of your food processor and process until finely ground (about 30 seconds). Add the almond paste and pulse until the mixture is very fine (the mixture will be grainy). Add the egg whites in two additions, processing well after each addition. Continue processing the batter until it's nice and smooth.
Fill a pastry bag, fitted with 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) plain tip, with the batter. Pipe 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) mounds of batter onto the parchment paper, using the template as a guide. Remove the template and, with a damp fingertip, gently smooth any tips of batter at the top of each cookie. If desired, lightly sprinkle the top of each cookie with a little sugar.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies have risen, are a deep golden color and have tiny cracks. Remove from the oven and place the baking pan on a wire rack to cool. When cool, gently peel the cookies from the parchment paper. If the cookies are sticking to the parchment, turn the paper over, take a damp paper towel and gently wipe the bottom of the parchment paper to loosen the cookies.
Makes about 30 cookies.
Amaretti (pronounced "am-ah-REHT-tee") is the Italian name for macaroons, which means little bitter things. These domed-shaped cookies are crisp and crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy inside. They originated in Venice Italy during the Renaissance period. These Amaretti cookies are made with almond paste, along with sugar and egg whites, and can be flavored with chocolate or liqueurs. Traditionally these cookies were served with a sweet dessert wine or liqueur, but they are also a wonderful accompaniment to a bowl of ice cream, sherbets, or mousses. Oftentimes, two baked cookies are sandwiched together with ganache, buttercream or jam. Another favorite way to use these cookies is to finely grind them and then add them to desserts (such as trifles) for added texture and flavor.
As I mentioned above, these Amaretti Cookies are made with almond paste which is a combination of equal parts ground blanched almonds and sugar, mixed with glucose, corn syrup or egg whites. It has a pliable yet grainy texture with a sweet almond flavor. Sold in both cans or tubes, my preference is the canned variety as I think it has a superior taste. As a side note, almond paste is also used in pastry making and confectionery to cover cakes and pastries, as well as forming into different shapes and figures. Any unused portions of almost paste can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated or else frozen. While the recipe calls for making the batter in your food processor, you can use an electric stand mixer or hand mixer to make the batter.