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Cookies with Nuts
Amaretti (Almond cookies, using flour, cocoa powder, eggs, natural almonds, and bitter almond extract)
Originated from: Casacalenda, Molise, Italy
Occasion: Weddings, Baptisms and other special events
Contributed by: Sue Alfieri and Pauline Fresco

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4 eggs
16 oz sugar
2 small bottles (50ml each) of "Mandorle Amaro," or 5 tablespoons "bitter almond" extract
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon Magic baking powder
1 kilo natural almonds, with their skin on, ground fine**

For coating cookie dough
about 1/2 cup icing sugar

Equipment needed
Aluminum baking sheet
Parchment paper
Small-sized ice-cream scoop (optional)

* "Mandorle Amaro" is a bitter almond extract; it is sold in Italian specialty shops in small bottles (1 bottle measures 50 ml) -- if unavailable, bitter almond extract can be substituted.

** Raw almonds [NOT roasted] with their skin still on and freshly ground at home in a food processor will result in better-tasting cookies than store-bought ground blanched almonds.


o Beat eggs.

o Add bitter almond extract to the eggs; mix well.

o Add sugar.

o Add cocoa powder.

o Add flour, mix well.

o Add Magic baking powder.

o Add the ground almonds.

o Place the mixture in a bowl; cover the bowl with clear plastic wrap.

o Let the mixture rest in the fridge for an hour.

o Form small balls with the dough (You can use a small-sized ice-cream scoop to get the desired uniform shape and size).

o Coat each ball with icing sugar, then place the dough balls on an aluminum baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper, making sure there is ample space between the dough balls as they will spread.

o Flatten the dough balls a little with the palm of your hands.

o Bake at 350 F. degrees for 12 minutes.

o Remove and cool.


The cookies shown in this entry were made by Sue Alfieri, using Pauline Fresco's recipe. Pauline Fresco herself learned how to make the amaretti cookies from her mother, Nunziatina (nee Melfi) Fresco who was probably one of the best home cooks in North America (a true master pastry chef!). Nowadays, Nunziatina's version of the amaretti cookie recipe has been copied over and over and over on the internet and everyone claims it as their own, which is what happens to good recipes..... Obviously, prior to World War II most Southern Italians living in the countryside only made amaretti (and other such cookies) for weddings, baptisms, First Holy Communions and Confirmations. For Sunday visitors "biscotti con mennole" (Almond biscotti, soft style) were made, but every other kind of cookie was reserved for life's big celebrations.... P.S. Recently Sue Alfieri, this webmaster's sister, revealed that she did not follow Pauline Fresco's mother's original recipe but adapted it -- in the past my sister used ONE (50 ml) bottle of bitter almond extract, but nowadays she uses TWO 50 ml bottles of "Vali's" artificial bitter almond extract (about 3 tablespoons). As my sister's cookies are loved by one and all, it is adviceable to use 2 bottles (50ml each) for this recipe. That said, most recipes can and should be adapted to suit one's individual tastes and this one is no exception. Photo: Mary Melfi

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