According to legend, in the early 1700s, a Milanese bishop made a surprise visit to the town of Saronno in Lombardy. A young couple paid tribute to the bishop by welcoming him with their unique homemade cookies, made from crushed apricot kernels and almonds, egg whites, and sugar. The bishop so loved the cookies that he blessed the couple, and the recipe became a local favorite.
With a great story more than three centuries old, it was just the excuse I needed to whip up another batch of almond flour. I still can’t get over what a great flour substitute almond meal is, and how easy it is to make some at home. The cats have gotten used to the sound of the blender, and now just shoot me a dirty look when I start to bring out the almonds.
Like most amaretti, these are hard and crunchy in texture – great for dunking in coffee, tea or milk. Plus they are super easy to make, and wheat-free.
And if you want to up the oomph factor, chop up bits of your favourite dark chocolate, wrap the cookie dough around it, and pop the little babies into the oven. You’ll thank me for it. Just don’t tell any Milanese bishops you meet 🙂
You will need: (makes about three dozen cookies)
- 2 1/4 cups blanched whole almonds (about 12 ounces), plus 15 for garnishing
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 15 whole almonds (for topping on the cookies)
Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°F. Lightly oil 2 large baking sheets, then line with parchment paper.
In food processor, combine 2 1/4 cups almonds and 1/3 cup sugar. Process until finely ground, scraping down sides once or twice. Set aside.
In electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt at high speed until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to medium and gradually sprinkle in remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Return speed to high and beat mixture until stiff, shiny peaks form. Gently fold in ground almond mixture and almond and vanilla extracts.
Roll mixture into 1-inch balls, place 2 inches apart on baking sheets, and flatten slightly. Top each with glacéed cherry or almond. Bake until cookies are golden, switching positions of pans halfway through, about 25 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
Cookies keep, wrapped, several days, or frozen, several weeks. Recrisp in warm oven.
Recipe from Epicurious