italian almond cookies

What are your most vivid food memories? My blurry toddler flashes are framed by food and my grandparents. Dripping syrup over buttery waffles with my Grandma, eating juicy cherries with her on the porch, watching her peel potato skin into long strips with a knife. Rolling out my own little ball of dough while my Nana formed ravioli, waking up to the smell of her meatballs frying on Sunday mornings, at holiday time watching her frost dozens and dozens of Italian anise cookies, laid out preciously on the dining room table. 
Italian almond cookies, amaretti, are a holiday tradition here, and though this recipe is not exactly how my grandmothers made them, I’m ready to add some new food memories to my collection. 
Italian Almond Cookies (Amaretti)
(recipe from here makes about 3 dozen)
2 1/4 cups blanched whole almonds (about 12 ounces), plus more for garnishing
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or oil lightly. In food processor, combine 2 1/4 cups almonds and 1/3 cup sugar. Process until finely ground, scraping down sides once or twice. Set aside. In electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt at high speed until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to medium and gradually sprinkle in remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Return speed to high and beat mixture until stiff, shiny peaks form. Gently fold in ground almond mixture and almond and vanilla extracts. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls, place 2 inches apart on baking sheets, and flatten slightly. Top each with almond. Bake until cookies are golden, switching positions of pans halfway through, about 25 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Cookies keep, wrapped, several days, or frozen, several weeks. Recrisp in warm oven.
P.S. When I bought the almonds this morning from my fruit guy, Enzo, he asked, “You’re making amaretti aren’t you?” Which tells you everything about Italy; 1) People are nosy. 2) Traditions are important. 


  1. um excuse me but you forgot to include "dust with powdered sugar" in the recipe instructions and THAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT PART.

    hehe :)

    and also you made me think of my first grandparent-related food memory, which took me back to such a lovely place! my mother's parents have a house in NW CT, and we used to go up for two weeks every summer - I remember coming up to the porch from the pool for bowls of cold, creamy cottage cheese with fresh peaches sliced right in. it was the perfect break from running around! thank you for reminding me!

  2. jillian12/03/2012

    holiday cookie memories are the best :) these look really tasty! xo

  3. marissa @ the boot12/03/2012

    haha, betsy!! at least now i know you read my entire post, even the recipe! :) that's a cute memory! p.s. couldn't comment on your post today but i loved your personal gift guide!

  4. marissa @ the boot12/03/2012

    thanks so much jill! :) i agree!

  5. these are one of my favorite cookies ever.

  6. Almond cookies are delightful! And my food memories revolve around traditional Chinese food. Always my favorite :)

  7. I love amaretti, these are beautiful!

  8. I love that the dreamy fruit guy knew exactly what you were up to! :)

  9. Liset Machado12/04/2012

    Hi!!I just made these cookies. They're really delicious; my whole family loved them. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

  10. Elizabeth McCormack12/18/2012

    love the lights in the background...great detail!


thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, i love reading them so much!

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