This recipe, from Washington culinary historian and educator Amy Riolo, was inspired by the amaretti cookies made by the Lazzaroni company of Saronno in Italy. Legend says that the cookies date to the early 16th century, when they were created in honor of a visit by the cardinal of Milan, and that the first recipe called for cherry pits (which have an almond flavor). These are good eaten as is or crushed and sprinkled on top of ice cream or other soft desserts.
Make Ahead: It's best to make this batter just before it is used. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Servings: 24 cookies
- 2 1/2 cups blanched (skinned) almonds
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Process 1 1/2 cups of the almonds in a food processor to the consistency of coarse, nubbly sand. Transfer 1/2 cup of the processed nuts to a mixing bowl, reserving the rest in a separate bowl.
Place the remaining 1 cup of almonds in the food processor; process until finely ground. (You're looking for a distinct difference between the textures of the two batches of almonds.) Add to the mixing bowl.
Stir in the sugar and extracts until well incorporated.
Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with a balloon-whip attachment) or a hand-held electric mixer, starting on low speed. Add the salt and increase the speed to high; beat for 5 minutes to form stiff peaks.
Use a flexible spatula to fold one-third of the egg whites into the almond mixture, then gradually and gently fold in the rest of the egg whites; some streaks of white should be showing. If the mixture seems too thin or pourable, add some or all of the reserved coarsely processed almonds.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Spoon the mixture onto the baking sheets to form 24 small mounds of equal size, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Bake one sheet at time for 15 to 20 minutes or until the bottoms of the macaroons are lightly golden. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving or storing.
From Riolo's "The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook" (American Diabetes Association, 2010).
Tested by Lisa Rein and Lucy Shackelford.
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