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Almond Paste


By our friend Louise Cianfero Simpson, in Italian Food & Folklore.

Amaretti cookies are known and loved throughout Italy. As you know by now, many Italian foods have a story behind them. This is the Amaretti story.

In the eighteenth century, the cardinal of Milan made a surprise visit to the small town of Saronno, out of devotion to the local Madonna. The townspeople were so delighted, they began a celebration for the cardinal with songs and gifts.

A young baker lived in Saronno. He, too, wanted to present the Cardinal with something memorable. He took almonds, sugar, egg whites and flour, ground them into a paste and formed them into rounds. His fiancee, who wanted to be part of his undertaking, sprinkled his creations with granulated sugar and put them in the oven. The result was a small, crunchy cookie, slightly bitter, but sweet... thus the name Amaretti, "a little bitter".

The legend says the Cardinal was so happy with the new cookies, he bestowed his blessings on the young lovers and the couple lived happily ever after.


8 oz almond paste
1-1/4 cups fine sugar
2 egg whites

1. Break the almond paste in small pieces.

2. In a bowl add the sugar and egg whites. Blend the mixture thoroughly until it is smooth and the almond paste is completely blended.

3. Pre-heat an oven to 325°F.

4. Lay out a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. In a pastry bag with a star tube pipe out small circles of the almond mixture on the parchment paper.

5. Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes until slightly browned.

6. Allow them to cool thoroughly before you try to lift them. If they are not cool, the bottoms will stick. Once cool, however, they lift off the paper easily.

7. Store in a cookie tin. Makes 2 dozen.

Italian Food & Folklore
Copyright © 1996 by Louise Cianfero Simpson - Used with Permission

Pauline's Amaretti
By Pauline Flice Kohler, Abruzzo and Campania (Napoli) Regions

2 cups blanched almonds
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites, beaten stiff
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 lemon peel, grated

1. Mix all ingredients together except egg whites.
2. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
3. Add egg whites to batter.
4. Let mixture stand for 3 hours.
5. Form dough into small balls.
6. Roll in sugar.
7. Place on greased cookie sheets.
8. Bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes.

Francesca's Castagnioli
By Francesca Amadio Vallonio, Abruzzo Region

1 kg (4 cups + 4 oz) crushed almonds
600 gr (2-1/2 cups) sugar
2 grated lemons
4 eggs (5 if small)

1. Mix almonds and sugar and lemon.
2. Grind well.
3. On your pastry board, make a mound with a well in the center, add eggs, and mix well.
4. Make small balls.
5. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.

From La Grande Tradizione Della Cucina Italiana
Compiled by the Culinary Arts Committee of the Columbus '92 Commission.

Amaretto is the singular of Amaretti