Amaretti – the simplest of biscotti

Amaretti have always been my mother’s favorite biscotti. We would buy the brand Unibic, made locally and probably the only Italian almond biscotti that you could find in Melbourne in the 1970s. They had a crispy and cracked outer shell and were practically empty in the middle. As lovely as they were, I adore home made amaretti, probably because they are so simple.

Amaretti comes from the word amaro, which means bitter. These biscotti are not bitter, though some recipes do add a small amount of bitter almonds (or essence of bitter almonds), or lemon zest or cinnamon or even a tablespoon of brandy. My preferred type of amaretti are the ones that are crunchy on the outside and soft and nutty in the middle and taste simply of almonds. Beautifully nutty and fresh. You can eat them at any time of the day – they pair beautifully with a cup of coffee in the morning or with a glass of sherry or vin santo in the afternoon or even with the liqueur Amaretto di Saronno after dinner. They stay fresh for a few weeks stored in a metal tin. They are so simple to make – only four ingredients. There is no real excuse for me to not have some on hand at all times for when guests drop around….except that my husband eats them quicker than I can make them!

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Amaretti
makes about 30
250g almond meal
250g sugar
3 egg whites (small to medium sized eggs), beaten until soft peaks form
1 – 2 tablespoons of plain flour

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a baking tray. Mix the sugar and almond meal and then fold in the egg white. Add a tablespoon of flour. You should have a soft but pliable mix that you can shape into balls. If it appears too soft (you may have had larger eggs), add a bit more flour. (If you wanted to add a bit of lemon zest, liqueur, bitter almond essence or cinnamon, you could do so when you add the flour at the end.)

Shape the mixture into balls (mine weighed 20g each) and place on a baking tray slightly spread apart as they will spread. Flatten the top with a back of a spoon. Cook for 30 minutes until they start to colour. Cool on a wire rack. The amaretti taste even better after a week (if they last that long!).

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