Making Amaretti

Coffee lovers, meet your new favorite cookie. These things are dynamite with an afternoon cup, just small enough and and light enough that you won’t feel guilty crunching your way through a couple of them with your three o’clock pick-me-up. They store well, which means a batch will last you a week or two, and who knows? You may find them handy for crushing and sprinkling over some cut fruit or a little sorbet. They’re handy for all sorts of things. Start yours by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and assembling your ingredients.

Begin by puliverizing the almonds. Combine them with the powdered sugar and the cornstarch (corn flour) in the bowl of a food processor.

Process them for about 45 seconds until they’re a meal-like consistency. Once the mixture starts creeping up the sides of the bowl you know they’re about as fine as they’re going to get.

Next prepare the meringue. Put the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip. If the wire loops don’t reach all the way to the bottom of the mixer bowl, squeeze them until they do.

Whip the whites until they’re foamy. Then add the sugar in a steady stream.

Whip them to the “bird’s beak” stage, which might take as much as 15 minutes depending on the speed of your mixer.

When the meringue is finished, whip in the amaretto and almond extract.

Add the almond mixture all at once…

…then gently fold it all in.

You’ll have a batter that looks like this:

Load that into a pastry bag with the collar only and pipe blobs about an inch across. Keep the end of the collar about 3/4 inch off the surface of the sheet pan. You can use parchment like I’m using or simply grease a sheet pan.

Tap down any points with a moistened finger.

Bake them about 15 minutes until they’re a light brown, then turn off the oven, prop the door open an inch or so with the hand of a wooden spoon. Half an hour later you’ve got yourself some amaretti.

Store them in an airtight container for a week or more.

21 thoughts on “Making Amaretti”

  1. Interesting opening sentence. I’m sitting here with my afternoon cuppa, and there’s not a cookie in sight. I must do something about that …

    Interesting also about the macaron similarity. Of course we’d all be horrified to see those cracks in our macarons, but they look quite beautiful in the amaretti. Well I think I’ll make some before my next cup.

      1. I made these today. Very good flavor, but mine don’t look anywhere as nice as yours. They cracked very unevenly (mostly on one side, I think my oven might be slightly tilted), some didn’t crack at all, and some of them had feet!

        What’s the cornstarch for? Is it just to keep the powdered sugar and ground almonds from clumping? If the sugar has cornstarch anyway, does it need more? Would a bit of potato starch do the same thing?

        1. Hey Chana!

          Heat is a factor on these. Sounds like you need some more. Do you think your oven could be running cool?

          My sense is that the cornstarch is there to provide a little structure and maybe keep the amaretti from weeping. But yes, any finely milled starch could substitute for it: potato starch, tapioca, rice flour. Glad they tasted good at least!

          – Joe

  2. I feel like pignoli are a natural extension of this/your other Italian goings-on of the last few weeks… They’re kinda pricy to make but oh so delicious!

    1. Hey Melanie!

      That reminds me of the time a trainee started at a bakery where I was working. He was a CIA grad who was just a little bit full of himself. His first job was to lightly toast a sheet pan of pine nuts and he burnt them to cinders…40 bucks down the tubes! Not a great first day on the job…but he got better! 😉

      Thanks Melanie!

      – Joe

  3. Hi Joe – lovely crackle! I just wanted to point out that your ingredients refer to blanched almonds. Is that a typo, or can it be either? (Maybe blanched is even more macaron-like?)

    Also, fyi, these are excellent with hazelnuts too!


    1. Thank you, Jen and good point!

      The grocery store didn’t have whole blanched almonds (i.e skinless ones), however the recipe works just as well with regular. I could have done sliced blanched almonds, however my feeling is that the flavor is better if the nuts are whole to start with. But I suspect that yes, hazelnuts would be great in this preparation as well.

      Many thanks, Jen!

      – Joe

  4. Amaretti or the slightly more chewy pignoli cookies is my go to recipe for using up all that leftover egg white from making custards and citrus curds. Reminds me that I have a large container of egg whites in the freezer that I should look to use up soon.

    1. Amen!

      They freeze great in ice cube trays as well if you need just a couple at a time!


      – Joe

    2. Rob,
      I use the egg whites (frozen in ice cube trays-one white per cube) to clarify homemade chicken stock. Works beautifully and having cubes of whites available is very handy!

  5. Hi, Joe! What keeps amaretti from getting the little “pied” as the recipes for these and macarons are so similar?

    1. Hey Leah!

      Sometimes amaretti do get little feet, but that generally happens when the heat is too low. Higher heat causes the top crust of an amaretto to harden quickly while the interior remains soft. As that interior heats and expands it cracks through the brittle top creating the trademark crackled look.

      But amaretti and macarons aren’t as similar as they appear. The basic components are the same and the mixing method is similar, however amaretti contain far less egg white. For that reason they aren’t nearly as fussy and meringue-like as their cousins the macarons. They’re a more rough-and-tumble sort of cookie.

      Let me know if you decide to try them. Send a picture if you can!


      – Joe

  6. Hi Joe Pastry,
    What a very lovely baking website! I am in far west Texas and wanting to make individual Pavlovas for my adult Sunday School class for Easter Sunday. Seems to me like I could make these very almondy crisp cookies to use in place of crumbled meringues. I plan to use lemon curd, whipped cream, raspberry coulis and fresh strawberries on top. Think this almond-flavored cookie would work? Thank you. I am going to come to your site everyday!!

    1. Hey Antuanete!

      Those look great. Higher heat will probably deliver cracks, but they taste great with or without them! Cracks are completely unnecessary.

      – Joe

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