Amaretti are Italian cookies typically made using either ground almonds or almond paste, and they have become a popular dessert cookie all over the world. Basically a type of macaroon, amaretti cookies are typically simple to make and bake only briefly before cooling and serving. They can also be flavored with other ingredients such as chocolate and flavored liquors, though plain almond cookies are traditional. Amaretti is delicious on its own and it can be served with sorbet or ice cream for an additional treat. The baked cookies can also be crushed up and used in other desserts, such as for crumb pie crusts.
Often served with dessert drinks such as dessert wines or digestives, amaretti cookies can be made several days before serving and will keep well. The dough can also be made and kept frozen, then thawed and baked just before serving, to make these already fast and easy cookies even faster. Amaretti are traditionally light and somewhat delicate though full of flavor.
Amaretti are made quite simply and can only require almond paste, sugar, and a few egg whites to prepare. Almond paste can be found at most supermarkets and grocery stores, as well as cooking supply stores and baking suppliers. The almond paste comes in a tube or similar canister, and is fairly dense, with a consistency similar to unbaked cookie dough.
A decent amount of almond paste is broken up into small pieces and placed into a food processor with the sugar. This is then processed until the paste and the sugar are thoroughly mixed and have an even consistency. The egg whites are then added one at a time and processed until fully mixed, with further processing after the final egg white until the mixture is smooth.
The amaretti mixture is then placed into a fairly large pastry bag without a piping tip, and is squeezed out into even, small rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. They may then be sprinkled with a little sugar, then baked, and finally removed from the oven to cool. Once cool, the cookies are gently removed from the parchment and usually placed on a platter or similar plate for presentation and serving. Any amaretti that stick to the parchment can be removed by lightly rubbing a damp towel across the other side of the parchment where the cookie is stuck; this will cause the cookie to come loose.