I’ve always wanted to find a recipe that produced the kind of amaretti that is in my memories of Italy – crispy and almondy on the outside and an erotic chewy sensation in the middle. You can buy the real thing in tins – produced traditionally as they were originally for a Cardinal passing through Saronno (or so the story goes) – but who would buy them when you can make your own so easily. It is said that the couple who invented the Saronno version of amaretti used crushed apricot kernels which gave them a slightly bitter taste – sounds like a lot of trouble to me!
This version is not at all authentic as it uses ready ground almonds and also contains a little flour and a good old slug of lemon. The tang of lemon peeking through the sugary almond confection is a delight to the taste buds. Look below to find out how to make them for yourself. They make a delicious accompaniment to a glass or liqueur or even a cup of tea. They can also be sneaked out of the cookie jar and eaten on their own!
1 tbsp plain flour
2/3cup (160g, 5 ½ oz.) castor sugar
1 generous cup (95g, 3oz) ground almonds
finely grated rind of one lemon
1 teasp lemon essence
¼ cup (30g, 1 oz) icing sugar
2 egg whites
- Line three baking trays with parchment paper. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
- Sift the flour, cornflour and half the castor sugar into a bowl. Then add the ground almonds and grated lemon rind.
- Beat the egg whites in a clean dry bowl. I use a mixer – a more dedicated cook may prefer the hand method, but I prefer the ‘cup of coffee and watch the machine do it’ approach! Once high peaks form, the eggs are whisked enough. (After all these years, this still seems like magic!)
- Gradually add the second half of the castor sugar, beat more slowly this time. The mixture will become thick and glossy as the sugar dissolves. At this point add the lemon essence.
- Using a metal spoon, fold the egg-white mixture into the dry ingredients until they are just combined.
- Using two teaspoons, put little piles of the mixture onto the trays. Set quite well apart as they will expand in baking.
- Once the little mounds are ready – put the icing sugar into a shaker and sift it liberally over the top of each one. (This will help the amaretti form the distinctive crinkly top) Bake for 15-20 minutes – they should be a light golden colour and certainly should lift off the trays without sticking.
I make approx. 20 amaretti from this recipe. You could make them smaller and get more for your efforts – but they won’t last any longer for sure!