♪Amaretti to the Italians, macaron to the French and almond cookies to the rest of the world, all have the same ingredients of ground almond, egg-white and sugar in common. What sets them apart is the fragrance/flavor enhancer!
Amaretti : Amaretti di Saronno refer to an amaretto (almond flavored) macaroon that is traditional to Saronno, a commune of Lombardy, Italy. It is one of many types of traditional amaretto biscuits. Legend has it that in the early 18th century, a Milanese bishop or cardinal surprised the town of Saronno with a visit. A young couple, residents of the town, welcomed him and paid tribute with an original confection: on the spur of the moment, they had baked biscuits made of sugar, egg whites, and crushed apricot kernels or almonds. These so pleased the visiting bishop that he blessed the two with a happy and lifelong marriage, resulting in the preservation of the secret recipe over many generations.
Macarons : A macaron is also called Luxemburgerli. It is commonly filled with ganache, buttercream or jam filling, sandwiched between two biscuits. The name is derived from the Italian word macarone, maccarone or maccherone, the Italian meringue. The confection is characterized by smooth top, ruffled circumference/foot/pied, and flat base. The macaroon is often mistaken as the macaron. Many have adopted the French spelling/pronunciation of macaron [mah-kah-rohn] to distinguish the two items in the English language.
Almond cookies: Almond cookies are prepared in different ways across various cultures and in various cuisines. Various forms of almond cookie are prepared in other countries including French Macarons Parisien (photo above left: modern sandwich version), Spanish almendrados, Turkish acibadem kurabiyesi, Norwegian, sandkakers, Chinese ghorayebah, Persian/Iranian nan’e badami, and there must be more.
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
The amount of almonds and/or sugar may be increased by up to 20% to taste.
• 180 g/ 1½ cup blanched, dry toasted almonds
• 128 g/ 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
• 2 large egg whites at room temperature
• small pinch salt
~~ and, fragrance/flavor enhancer of choice:
• ½ ~ ¾ tsp pure almond extract or
• ½ ~ ¾ tsp pure vanilla extract or
• ½ ~ ¾ tsp rose water or
• smidgen ground cardamom
◊ Using a food-processor, process almonds and half of the sugar to a fine powder. Sieve in a bowl to avoid any big pieces or lumps.
◊ Arrange racks in upper and lower third of oven and preheat to 175°C/350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. It is very important for the oven to be well preheated for a successful result.
(If using one baking sheet and repeating the baking process: (a) place the oven rack on the middle shelf, (b) make sure the baking sheet is fully cooled before placing the second batch and (c) put back the mixture in the refrigerator until ready for the second baking.)
◊ With an electric mixer, beat egg whites for 10 seconds, add salt and continue beating. Gradually, a spoonful at a time, add the other half of the sugar, add fragrance/flavor enhancer of choice and continue beating until the egg whites are
firm peak (avoid over beating, it will be difficult to break the foam and incorporate with almond mixture).
◊ Add sieved ground almond/sugar mixture to the meringue, and fold well. Put mixture in the refrigerator for 15 ~ 20 minutes (it will thicken and be easier to form into balls).
◊ When ready to make the balls, fold the mixture well again. Either using 1-teaspoon-scoop (which results in 1¾ tsp balls each) -or- a two-teaspoon technique (scoop with one teaspoon and use another teaspoon to scoop back, and back-and-forth to round-up and form a ball) drop the mixture balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet(s).
◊ Bake for 10~12 minutes or until the cookie edges have turned slightly brown and cracks have formed on top surface (over-baking makes cookies too crispy). Remove from oven and immediately transfer (using spatula if necessary) to a wire rack to cool completely.
◊ Store them in airtight container until ready to serve. Cookies are good for several days at room temperature, or if frozen, several weeks. Center of the cookies get chewier the next day, or even more the following day.
~ Bon Appétit! ~
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