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Author Notes: These chubby little nuggets are a cinch to make. The almonds are toasted after grinding to maximize the toasted almond taste. Ginger adds interest, and black pepper gives the cookies just a bit of kick. If you want, add some chopped dried sour cherries for little bursts of tartness amidst the spice and nuts. Those of you who really love ginger should throw in some diced candied or crystallized ginger. If you prefer a cookie that’s chewier than traditional amaretti, just take them out of the oven about five minutes earlier. And for a more “grown-up” cookie, double or even triple the pepper, to taste. Buon appetito!! —AntoniaJames
Food52 Review: This is a delicious and unique version of the classic chewy Italian amaretti that I look forward to with every visit to the North End bakeries in Boston, where I live. I love the substitution of toasted ground almonds for the usual marzipan paste -- not only is it more affordable, but it also makes for a nuttier cookie. The idea to add ground ginger is also a great touch. I made these without the add-ins, and I didn't feel like it was missing anything.
A couple of notes: I made two batches, and I took one batch out at 20 minutes and one out at 25 minutes, and the 20-minute batch was the perfect level of chewiness. Don't skip the salt and pepper -- they make the other flavors pop! The amount of almond extract recommended was perfect. Almonds can be ground in a food processor. —ebtosun
Serves 24 cookies
- 2 cups ground almonds
- 1/2 cup raw cane (turbinado) sugar
- 1/ teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more, to taste)
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger (or more to taste)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (or more to taste)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied or crystallized ginger (optional)
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped dried sour cherries (optional)
- In the top third of a 400° F oven, toast the ground almonds on a large cookie sheet covered with parchment. Stir around every minute or so to prevent burning. Toast for three or four minutes, or as long as necessary to toast them to a light caramel color. Once you've taken them out, stir them around several times to facilitate cooling.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325° F.
- In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, salt, flour, and spices.
- If you are using candied ginger or dried cherries, drop in the bits slowly, to keep them separated. (Please see the note below on cutting the ginger.) Work briefly with your fingers to coat the pieces, to prevent them from clumping together.
- Add the nuts to the sugar and spice mixture. Combine thoroughly.
- Lightly beat the egg whites until just foamy. If you like a strong almond flavor, add the almond extract at this point. Go easy though, as it can quickly and irrevocably overwhelm the ginger.
- Stir in the egg whites. The dough should be a sticky stiff paste.
- Drop by the tablespoon full onto cookie sheets lined with parchment.
- Cook for 25 minutes for a chewy cookie, or 30 minutes for a crispy one.
- Allow to cool on the parchment.
- Note: It's much easier to cut candied or crystallized ginger into tiny pieces if you put a few drops of flavorless vegetable oil on both your knife and the cutting surface where you plan to work. ;o)
- This recipe is a Community Pick!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe with Egg Whites
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Almond Macaroons