Amaretti cookies.. need I say more? These little almond delights are one of my favorite cookies. I have bought many different kinds over the years, generally at Italian grocery stores, but had never tried making them at home.. until yesterday. I had always thought that they were too difficult to make at home, and so I was content to splurge on boxes of pricey amaretti that I would try to save for as long as possible.
After browsing around some of my regular food blogs, I found an amaretti recipe from Cream Puffs in Venice. The recipe was actually incredibly simple (five ingredients!), and they tasted better than the gourmet store-bought ones I am used to. The trick to the recipe, as Ivonne told us, is to grind your own almonds rather than using store-bought almond powder. As our antique food processor was definitely not up to the challenge, Oliver worked out an elaborate solution involving no less than 3 large ziploc bags, a hammer, a mug, and an empty bottle of wine.
We have also been experimenting with food styling these days and we had a good time finding new ways to display the amaretti. With the holiday cookie season coming up, I can be sure that the extra almonds sitting in my pantry will be put to good use!
(Yield: 50-70 cookies)
1-1/2 pounds almonds, finely ground
2 cups granulated sugar (plus 1 cup extra sugar to roll the cookies in)
1 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa
3 tablespoons of almond extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Position your oven racks so that one rack is at the bottom of the oven and the other rack is in the middle of the oven; line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the ground almonds, sugar and cocoa. Add the eggs and almond extract and mix until well combined. Using a tablespoon or your hands, scoop out enough of the almond mixture to form a ball that is roughly 1-1/2 to 2 inches in size.
Roll each ball in the cup of granulated sugar and place on cookie sheet. Make sure that there is a visible layer of white sugar on each amaretti. Press down the center of each cookie with your thumb to create an indentation in the center (this helps with sugar crackle on top of the almond base).
Bake cookies on lower rack for 10 minutes and then move to middle rack for an additional five minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container. Cookies will keep for up 10 days.