For the reasons I’ve already explained in a previous article, you will sometimes bump into Italian recipes. The following one is quite tricky to bake – let’s be honest, the first five attempts haven’t been successful – but it absolutely worths to give it a try when you’ll taste the result! Amaretti Sardi are from Sardinia as you could easily guess.
They are usually served at the end of a meal during special events or celebrations of all kind. They are brought on a serving plate filled with a mix of others dolcetti sardi (=Sardinian sweets) all made with sugar, eggs, almonds and flour. Though they all are very tasty, the amaretti are so far our favorite ones.
The amaretti are the ancestors of French macarons. They contain more almond and less meringue but the ingredients are the same: egg whites, sugar, almond powder. You may have try the industrial Italian amaretti. They are very different from the Sardinian amaretti. Those are very soft and heavy compare to the Italian amaretti which are crispy and empty.
Ingredients for 8 amaretti sardi:
- 5.6 oz peeled almonds + 8 almonds to decorate the amaretti
- 1/2 cup caster sugar + 2 tbsp to roll on the amaretti
- 2 tsp almond extract
- Pinch of lemon zest
- 1 egg white
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup orange blossom water
Important note about the almonds you’ll use
You need to mix unpeeled almonds into a fine powder with a blender or food processor. It is very important to make your own powder instead of buying the ready-to-use almond flour. The oil of the almonds you’ll blend will keep the powder just moist enough to give your biscuits the desired consistency. Haven’t found the unpeeled almonds? Don’t panic. Blanch the almonds to remove their skin by submerging them in boiling water for 3 minutes. Then, drain the almonds and while they’re still hot, press the bottom of each one. The almonds will pop up from their skin. It’s a very funny and satisfying process.
- In a food processor, mix together the peeled almonds and half of the sugar until you obtain a powder.
- Beat the egg white with a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl for a few seconds. You don’t want the mixture to be stiff, but just a bit foamy. Then, add the pinch of lemon zest, the remaining sugar and the almond extract. Beat lightly again for a few seconds (5 to 10 with a hand mixer) to obtain a white, shiny and homogeneous mixture. Add in the almond powder all at once. Gently fold in the almond powder with a spatula until the batter becomes sticky and compact.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on your baking tray. Lightly moisten your hands with the orange blossom water and shape 8 same-size balls of dough. Roll them in the caster sugar and place them on the tray. Plant an almond on the top of each amaretto. Let stand overnight – for at least 12 hours.
- The following day, preheat the oven to 355°F (180°C). Bake the amaretti for 5 minutes at this temperature, then, lower the temperature to 320°F (160°C) and bake for other 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the cooking process, this is the trickiest part. Be careful to not overcook them, the amaretti are very, very delicate. They are ready when they are crackled and barely brown as you can see on the picture. They appear to be really soft when you’re taking them off the oven, but as they cool, they will solidify and be ready to eat. A real treat!