Amaretti is the Italian name for macaroon cookies, which means “little bitter things.” In fact in Italy, they are made using 3 parts sweet almond and 1 part bitter almond for strong almond taste and the typical almond bitterness. There are many Amaretti recipes all around Italy, but especially in Sicily and Sardinia, the two regions which are the largest producers of almond in the country. Bitter almond is not available in the U.S. and I substitute almond extract instead.
18 oz (500 g) almonds, whole blanched
11 oz (300 g) sugar
1 lemon rind, grated
3 egg whites
3 – 4 drops bitter almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Place the almonds in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Run the blade until the almonds are ground.
Add the sugar and continue to run the blade until the mixture is reduced to a very fine paste.
Beat the egg whites until stiff
Add the egg whites to the almond mixture, mixing thoroughly with a spatula.
Combine the grated lemon rind and the bitter almond extract.
Line a cookie sheet or flat oven pan with parchment paper. Form small balls the size of walnuts. Place them on the pan approximately 2” (5 cm) apart.
Wet a kitchen towel (or kitchen paper), place it on top of the cookies, and pat lightly to make
Using a small ice cream scoop makes it easy to pick up the almond paste and make all the balls the same size.
Special attention must be given to the quantity of egg white used. Large eggs contain a large egg white and may consequently give you an excessive quantity of liquid. If too much egg white is used, the cookies will not rise and will result very flat. To avoid the risk of using too much egg white, add the egg white a little at the time with a spoon until you reach a consistency similar to that of meat loaf.