Amaretti

Italian Macaroons

The Italian name for macaroons, amaretti, literally means “little bitter things,” after the bitter almonds that are used in their preparation. In the United States, it is essential to use canned almond paste to achieve the taste and texture of the Italian original. The canned almond paste is flavored with oil of bitter almond, giving it the characteristic flavor. It has also been crushed very finely between granite rollers during the manufacturing process, which imparts a degree of smoothness impossible to duplicate with a food processor or blender. Although cellophane-wrapped tubes of almond paste will do for making an almond-paste covering for some of the cakes in other chapters, avoid using it for the amaretti, since it would make them rather flat both in flavor and appearance.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces canned almond paste
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg whites

Method

Break the almond paste into small pieces and combine it with the sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Mix on low speed with the paddle until very fine. Add the egg whites in 4 additions, mixing about 1 minute between each. Beat the paste until very smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain tube (Ateco #6) with the mixture. Line 2 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans with parchment. Pipe the mixture onto the paper in 1- to l½-inch mounds, about 1 inch apart.

Fold a clean kitchen towel into a long strip and moisten the towel with water. Squeeze lightly to eliminate excess water, leaving the towel more than damp. Slap the surface of the amaretti gently with the towel to moisten them and make the surface smooth. Sprinkle the amaretti with the granulated sugar.

Bake the amaretti at 375 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes, until they are well risen and a deep golden color and their surface is covered with tiny cracks. Remove from the oven and place the pans on racks to cool.

To remove the amaretti from the paper, turn the paper over, with the amaretti still adhering to it, and wet the paper with hot water, using a brush. Leave for a few minutes and then pull on the paper to release the amaretti.

Granulated sugar for finishing

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