Crisp on the outside, chewy in the middle and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. These cinnamon amaretti cookies are the best little snack to have with your mid-morning cup of coffee. Or maybe as a little treat after lunch. Or an afternoon pick-me-up. Or in front of the TV once the kids are in bed.
Ok, maybe all of those things.
You could even crush them and add them to ice-cream, trifles or as part of a streusel topping. So delicious!
Amaretti have been around since the early 1700’s. Invented in Italy, they’ll been building in popularity since, and are now known and loved the world over. They’re traditionally served with dessert wine or strong coffee, but they go well with a nice cup of tea too.
There are quite a few versions of them, but the main characteristics of amaretti are that they’re made with ground almonds, amaretto (a deliciously almondy liquor) and egg whites, and they’re small and round.
I decided to pep my regular amaretti recipe up with a good dash of cinnamon. No stingy ‘pinches’ of cinnamon here. Chuck in a whole teaspoon full, and then sprinkle with a little extra to get that warm spicy flavour to come through. It complements the sweet, almond flavour perfectly. Oh and they’re also naturally gluten-free too, which makes them great for giving out as gifts or taking to parties when you’re not sure of everyone’s dietary requirements.
I often find myself making recipes that call for egg yolks – like vanilla slices – just so I have leftover egg whites to make these lovely cookies.
The egg whites are whisked up until light and fluffy before folding them into the rest of the ingredients. This lightens the cookies (almond-meal based cookies can be pretty dense), and also works with the sugar in the recipe to give the cookies that sweet, chewiness – reminiscent of meringue.
When I’m making custard, I tend to freeze the leftover egg whites, so I can make these amaretti later. Just ensure you defrost the egg whites thoroughly before using and they’ll work out great. If you’re using eggs from the fridge, it’s best to bring them to room temperature before whisking the whites. This will result in a fluffier mix.
A little tip for you – if you are making these using whole eggs, you can freeze the egg yolks to use in something later. If you do freeze the egg yolks, give them a mix with a fork first, and add in a few grains of salt per egg yolk (if you’re planning on using them for a savoury recipe) or a 1/3 teaspoon of sugar per egg (if you’re planning on using them for a sweet recipe). The addition of the salt or sugar helps to prevent the egg yolks from becoming too thick and gelatinous to work with.
Another little tip – make sure you’re using ground almonds/almond meal. Don’t use almond flour or you’ll end up with a runny mixture and flat cookies.
The finished mix should be sticky and firm so you can roll them into balls without them losing their shape.
I love to roll my amaretti in caster sugar first, and then in confectioner’s sugar. The caster sugar adds a sweet crunch to the cookies, whilst helping to ensure that the confectioner’s sugar isn’t absorbed into the cookies. The confectioner’s sugar, well that just looks pretty. The cookies spread and crack ever so slightly during cooking, and that nice cracked effect is more pronounced with the confectioner’s sugar coating.
Store these amaretti in an air-tight jar at room temperature, and they’ll keep for up to a week. They’re so moreish though, that it’s very doubtful they’ll last out the day!
- 3 eggs whites from large eggs
- 280g/9.9oz ground almonds/almond meal (not almond flour)
- 280g/9.9oz caster sugar
- 30ml/1fl oz Amaretto liquor
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 heaped tbsp. caster sugar
- 2 heaped tbsp. icing/powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 170c/325f. Line two baking trays with a silicone mat or baking parchment.
- Using a hand whisk or mixer, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold in the ground almonds, caster sugar, Amaretto, 1 tsp of the cinnamon and the vanilla extract.
- Place the caster sugar and icing sugar for rolling on two separate plates. Using a teaspoon or your fingers, scoop out a chunk of the cookie mixture and roll it into a ball in your hands (about the size of a walnut). Roll it in the caster sugar, then roll it in the icing sugar and place on the baking tray.
- Repeat with the remaining dough until you’ve used it all up. Leave a bit of space between the cookie balls as they will expand slightly during cooking.
- Use your finger to squash the cookie balls a little, then place in the oven to cook for 15 minutes.
- Take out of the oven, leave to cool for 5 minutes then sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon. Serve them warm, or allow to cool completely on the tray.
Cooled cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.