This Italian recipe for almond cookies a.k.a. soft amaretti, requires three basic ingredients (almond flour, sugar and egg whites) and is made in 3 different ways.
These Italian almond cookies (a.k.a. soft amaretti or amaretti morbidi) appear in my kitchen very often because they’re quick and easy to make, they taste delicious (especially if you love the almond flavor) and they require 3 basic ingredients (egg whites, almond flour, sugar), plus some aromatics and a pinch of salt.
Almost every time I have leftover egg whites, especially after making a vanilla custard cream or these salt-cured egg yolks, I will make these amaretti. There are some other times when I’ll make this white chocolate vanilla cake instead, but the cookies somehow seem easier to me.
For this recipe I figured it would be useful to also show you some variations even though the classic flavor is my favorite one. The classic ones are flavored with bitter almond which is the signature flavor of amaretti cookies, but I’ve also made them with a combination of matcha green tea and some lime zest and with ground hazelnuts combined with a bit of espresso coffee.
According to Taste Atlas, in Italian, the word amaretti is derived from the word amaro, which means bitter. And so in order to get the true authentic taste of an amaretti, you must use ground bitter almonds or replace them with bitter almond extract. Luckily, most almond extracts have already bitter almond extract as their base because that’s what gives them their intense scent, but you should make sure to smell your extract. If it smells intensely and like disarrono liquor then you’re good to go. If it’s not very very intense you may have to increase the quantity given in the recipe below.
Ground apricot kernel seeds will also give a very similar flavor to that of bitter almonds, so if it’s easier for you to source these you can use a 1-2 tablespoons of these after you finely process them in your food processor. (Please talk with your doctor before eating apricot kernel seeds. Though they can have some health benefits, over-consumption can cause cyanide poisoning).
What are amaretti cookies made of?
To make this Italian almond cookie recipe you will need 3 basic ingredients:
- Almond flour (a finely ground almond flour will provide a smooth texture, but if you prefer them coarser, you can use blanched almonds, and grind them in your food processor)
- Egg whites (room temperature because you will whip them)
- White sugar
- Some flavorings: bitter almond extract, vanilla (optional) and a pinch of salt
How to make Italian almond cookies (soft amaretti) from scratch
The procedure is very easy:
- Mix the almond flour with the sugar.
- Whisk the egg whites and the salt until soft peaks form. You can do that with an electric mixer or with a whisk.
- Make the dough: Add the almond extract, the vanilla and the almond flour to the egg whites and mix well with a wooden spatula.
- Shape the cookies into small balls and coat them with icing sugar.
Should you roll the amaretti in granulated sugar or icing sugar?
Rolling these Italian almond cookies into sugar before you bake them is optional, but they look much nicer this way. Some recipes (like this one from shelovesbiscotti) roll them in caster sugar and other recipes roll them into icing (confectioners sugar). I prefer icing sugar because it makes them prettier and because I don’t like the crunch that the caster sugar gives.
Another thing is that many recipes (like this one from loveandoliveoil) require equal amounts (in weight) in almond flour and white sugar. I have experimented with less sugar and found that the quantity given in the written recipe bellow is enough to keep the texture and the taste of the cookies right without them being overly sweet. However, you can certainly increase the sugar to 1 cup which equals in weight with the 2 cups of almond flour.
- 2 cups (200 grams) almond flour
- 2/3 cups (130 grams) white sugar
- 2 egg whites (60 grams), room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- icing sugar for coating
Preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C).
Transfer the almond flour and the sugar to a bowl and mix well.
Transfer the egg whites and the salt to the bowl of your electric mixer and beat on high until soft peaks form. You can also do that by hand using a whisk.
Add the almond extract and the vanilla to the egg whites and mix well to combine. Smell the mixture and if the almond scent seems too weak, add another ¼ of a teaspoon almond extract. Then add the almond flour and mix well with a wooden spatula until a dough is formed. It may be a little sticky but that’s okay.
Transfer some icing sugar to a shallow plate. Take heaped tablespoons of dough and shape the cookies into small balls rolling them briefly between your hands. Transfer the balls to the icing sugar and roll them to coat well.
Transfer to a baking pan and press them gently to flatten them a bit. Bake for 25 minutes. You don't want them to brown.
Let them cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
For the matcha – lime amaretti:
Add 1 tablespoon of matcha green tea to the flour and replace the vanilla with 1 teaspoon lime zest.
For the hazelnut – espresso amaretti:
Replace all the almond flour with 3 cups hazelnut flour and replace the vanilla with 2 tablespoons freshly brewed espresso coffee.
Start with 2 cups hazelnut flour and replace the vanilla with1 teaspoon instant coffee powder. Add more hazelnut flour if the dough is very sticky.
- Depending on the brand of your almond extract you may need to increase it to 1/2 a teaspoon.
- The traditional recipe uses equal parts (in weight) almond flour and sugar. You can increase the sugar to 1 cup (200 grams) if you have a sweet tooth.
- Use room temperature egg whites because they will whip up much faster.
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