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Cookies with Nuts
Macaroons/Amaretti I (flourless Italian almond cookies, with sugar, egg whites and sweet and bitter almonds)
Originated from: Italy
Occasion: Special times
Contributed by: Taken from "The Italian Cook Book" by Maria Gentile (The Italian Book Co., 1919)

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9 ounces granulated sugar
3 1/2 ounces sweet almonds, blanched
1 3/4 ounces of bitter almonds
2 egg whites

wafer cookies for lining (optional)

Equipment needed
Baking tin greased with butter and sprinkled with half flour and half powdered [icing] sugar


"Skin and dry the almonds,then chop them very fine. Mix the sugar and the whites of egg and stir for about half an hour, then add the almonds to form a rather hard paste. Of this make little balls, as large as a small walnut. If the paste is too soft add a little butter, if too hard add a little white of egg, this time beaten. Were it desired to give the macaroons a brownish color, mix with the paste a little burnt sugar. As you form the little ball, that you will flatten to the thickness of one third of an inch, put them over wafers or on pieces of paper or in a baking tin greased with butter and sprinkled with half flour and half powdered sugar. Dispose them at a certain distance from one another as they will enlarge and swell, remaining empty inside. Bake in an oven moderately hot."


This recipe was taken from "The Italian Cook Book: the Art of Eating Well, Practical Recipes of the Italian Cuisine" by Mrs. Maria Gentile. It was published in the U.S. in 1919. For the entire copyright-free cookbook see www.archive.org........ P.S. Nowadays "macaroons" and "amaretti" tend to be seen as two different types of cookies. "Macaroons" are generally made with egg whites and sweet almonds and "amaretti" include whole eggs and are flavored with the essence of bitter almonds. When Gentile's book was published in 1919 the words seemed to be used interchangeably. The author described this recipe with the two words -- "macaroon" and "amaretti" but the word, macaroon, was printed in the larger font. If someone were publishing the book today, very likely, the word, amaretti would be in larger font. Also, in this day and age, not many North American shops sell "bitter almonds." Most home cooks use bitter almond extract. Luckily, after an arduous search I found a Middle Eastern grocery shop in Montreal (Akhavan) that did sell bitter almonds (an Iranian export). Using the real thing gave the cookies a wonderful flavor (Surprisingly, "skinning" the almonds was quite easy to do). Half the amount of bitter almonds suggested in this recipe might have been more than enough as the cookies were a touch too bitter. In addition, the cookie paste spread out too much (Should have been thicker, I guess) so the end result was not all that pretty, but the cookies tasted real good.... Photo and notes: Mary Melfi.

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