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Amaretti Biscuits for Christmas

It’s a very low key Christmas at Tiffin HQ. Some of this is because we have been travelling quite a lot and some of this is because we have chosen to simplify our approach to Christmas. We are aiming for quality, not quantity. We still enjoy delicious Christmas foods and sharing home made gifts, which is why I made these super easy Amaretti. They make the perfect celebration or thank you gift. You’ll never have left over egg whites again!

tray of amaretti biscuits with almonds and amaretto liqueur in the background

Bitter Desire

Amaretti are an Italian version of a macaroon. Macaroons use coconut whilst Amaretti use almond meal. Amaretti in Italy are traditionally flavoured with bitter almonds, so it is not surprising that the Italian word for bitter is ‘amaro‘. Italians have a palate for bitter foods. It’s not a flavour profile that we have grown up with in Australia but tastes evolve so we are starting to see more bitter ingredients on the menu. Artichokes, chicory and raddichio greens are favourites on the Italian table and of course, Campari, which is a digestif distilled from cynar or, artichoke leaves.

I have not included bitter almonds as they are not readily available in Australia. If you have access to bitter almonds or essence of bitter almonds, you can add a few that have been ground up (or a dash of essence). Amaretto is not mandatory but it does give the amaretti a nice toasty almond boost. I recommend having a shot for yourself whilst making these – strictly for medicinal purposes, you understand.

Fun Foodie Fact: Michelin Stars are also known as Macarons in France.

 Christmas Amaretti Biscuits

(adapted from a recipe by Kitchen Sanctuary for Australian conditions)

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites (frozen is fine but make sure they are completely defrosted)
  • 250g almond meal
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1/4 tspn vanilla extract
  • 30ml Amaretto liqueur
  • 2 – 3 extra tbsp caster sugar (for rolling)
  • 2 – 3 extra tbsp icing sugar (for rolling)
tray of rolled and uncooked amaretti biscuits

Rolled and ready to bake

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180c. Line two trays with baking parchment. Place extra caster sugar and icing sugar in separate shallow bowls.
  2. Whisk the egg whites in a large, clean bowl until stiff peaks form.
  3. Fold in the almond meal, caster sugar and vanilla extract.
  4. Slowly add the Amaretto if you are using and mix again
  5. The mixture should be stiff but sticky. If it is too wet (it depends on the size of the egg whites you use), add another one or two tablespoons of almond meal and mix again
  6. Scoop out spoonfuls of mixture weighing 20 grams each. Roll into balls, then roll in caster sugar followed by icing sugar.
  7. Place amaretti on baking trays and press down slightly. They will spread a little so don’t overcrowd the tray. I could comfortably fit 12 – 15 on a tray.
  8. Bake for 18 minutes, watching them for the last minute or two. You want the amaretti to be a light golden colour, not too dark. I like to swap the trays from top to bottom halfway through, to help everything colour evenly.
  9. Cool for a few minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The biscuits should be slightly crunchy on the outside and moist and chewy on the inside.
  10. Store biscuits in a biscuit tin if possible. If you do store them in a plastic container, a sachet of silica gel in the container will help to absorb excess moisture.
  11. Eat within 4 days or freeze half the baked batch for easy thawing at a later date.

Makes 30 – 35 biscuits

closeup of baked amaretti biscuits

Notes

  • Rolling the biscuits in caster sugar first, stops the icing sugar melting into the biscuits when they’re baked.
  • Weighing the biscuits ensures an even bake of all the amaretti on the tray. Trial and error has shown me that 20gm is generally a good weight for biscuits. If you don’t have scales, try to make the biscuits as even in size as you can.
  • This recipe is adapted for Australian conditions. At Christmas it is generally wet and warm, so the amaretti needed a few extra minutes to firm up/dry out. This is included in the baking time above.

If you prefer the coconut version of macaroons, the recipe is here or click through on the picture below.

Bowl of chocolate dipped coconut macaroons

6 comments… add one
  • Dr Lyn Riddett December 12, 2018, 5:54 pm

    Adore amaretti! Thank you for the recipe.

    • Fiona Ryan December 16, 2018, 4:07 pm

      So do I. I’m glad I’ve got some in reserve in the freezer.

  • Maria Valastro December 12, 2018, 6:50 pm

    buonissimo!

    • Fiona Ryan December 16, 2018, 4:06 pm

      I’m sure they are not a patch on your Mum’s. These are my favourite in the world of Italian biscuits.

  • bitemebypamtree December 13, 2018, 5:50 am

    Yours look so much better than mine…..but still delicious! Thanks for recipe

    • Fiona Ryan December 16, 2018, 4:05 pm

      It’s hard for all of that sugar and almond meal not to be delicious. I think the atmosphere has a lot to do with it. It’s raining and humid here at present so I wouldn’t even be able to contemplate making these.

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