Soft Amaretti Morbidi

December 13, 2022
3 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Makes about 20 cookies
Author Notes

Sometimes wrapped in colourful tissue paper, sometimes in vintage-looking metal tins, these tender-crumbed almond biscuits appear in the baking tradition of many Italian regions, especially Liguria and Lombardy. In Venice, the tradition is likely acquired, though it found a perfect fit in the city’s time-honoured passion for crafting almond-based sweets.

Akin to Sicilian pasta di mandorle, the greatness of soft amaretti rests on the fragile equilibrium between the tender heart and the crumbly crystallised shell; the intense, marzipan-like sugariness and the contrasting notes of bitter almonds. Whether served aside a bowl of zabaglione, crumbled over ice cream or crushed on baked peaches, these will be in their element.
Excerpted from VENETO: Recipes from an Italian Country Kitchen by Valeria Necchio. Copyright © 2017 Valeria Necchio. Published by Faber & Faber. All Rights Reserved. —Valeria

What You'll Need
  • 3/4 ounce (20g) dry apricot kernels (or use 3/4oz/20g ground almonds plus 1 1 /2 teaspoons almond extra
  • 1 3/4 cups (200g) powdered sugar, sifted, plus more for rolling
  • 1 3/4 cups
    1 tablespoon (180g) ground almonds

  • 2 1/2 ounces (70g) egg whites (about 2 egg whites)
  1. In a food processor or spice grinder, grind the apricot kernels together with 1 tablespoon of the powdered sugar until you have a fine meal. (Or mix the 20 g 3/4oz ground almonds plus 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract). Transfer to a large bowl and add the 180g| 1 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon ground almonds and the rest of the sugar. Stir to combine.
  2. In a smaller glass or metal bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold them into the dry ingredients until it all comes together into a sticky but even ball of dough. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Next, preheat the oven to 180°C |350°F |gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with parchment, Scoop a scant tablespoon of dough (about 20g | 3 /4oz) and work it between your palms to form a ball. Roll it in icing sugar, shake off any excess, flatten it slightly and seas it onto the lined baking tray. Repeat with the rest. Ensure a couple of centimeters between each cookie—if one tray is not enough, bake in 2 batches, keeping the remaining dough in the fridge while the first batch bakes.
  4. Place the tray in the upper middle part of the oven. Bake for 18 minutes, or until golden and wrinkly. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container or metal tin for up to 2 weeks.
  5. Note: Apricot kernels, or else bitter almonds (armelline), are definitely worth seeking out for this recipe. They are known for being poisonous when ingested in high amounts, but the dose listed here is far from lethal. If you can’t find them, a few drops of almond extract make a fine substitution; just use more almond meal to make up for the weight difference.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • kellyhere
  • Casey Thomas
    Casey Thomas
  • Tarah Taylor
    Tarah Taylor
  • Laudan Dehghanpisheh Kirk
    Laudan Dehghanpisheh Kirk

8 Reviews

CookingOnAllFour February 13, 2022
Delicious and simple to make. We're currently clustered around the baking pan in the kitchen...very unlikely we'll be able to talk about for how long they're edible. Can vouch for 20 minutes. :)
kellyhere April 23, 2021
These turned out beautifully for me. I love the chewy, squishy centers! I used the extra 20g of ground almonds rather than the ground kernels, and added some almond extract when I was folding in the egg whites. If you don't have almond extract on hand, I think vanilla extract would also be a good choice.
Casey T. January 19, 2021
I decided to do some baking for holiday gifts this year and after making this recipe (with a few tweaks like adding a tablespoon of Disaronno and skipping the apricot kernels) I have been making them once a week due to the high demand in the house and requests from friends and coworkers. Highly recommend, they are delicious!
Nickolas U. February 8, 2019
My cookies unfortunately came out looking more like flat almond meringues than the cookies resembled in the picture. Does anyone have any idea what I may have done incorrectly?
Thank you!
s1gn3 November 19, 2018
I’ve made these twice, and they’re so delicious!

Would it work to refrigerate the dough for a day instead of an hour? I’m hoping to make these in advance of Thanksgiving. Thank you!
macfadden January 1, 2018
While the author obvious didn't die while testing this recipe, I think it's worth mentioning that apricot kernels contain cyanide and are toxic. The lethal dose is around 30 kernels for an adult. If you're not convinced, you might want to read the link to an article in the Telegraph posted by Laudan Dehghanpisheh Kirk in the comments section. Just use the ground almonds substitute.
Tarah T. December 21, 2017
Can you give a good source for apricot kernels?
Laudan D. December 28, 2017
I just tread that apricot kernels aren't too safe. so if you use them in this recipe which is a very small amount just remember this for later use.