Amaretti are almond biscuits (cookies), similar to macaroons.
There are two types of amaretti biscuits. Both can be made at home or purchased ready-made.
The first is a light golden tan coloured crisp and airy biscuit shaped like a small macaroon that crushes easily into crumbs. The flavour is sweet with a bitter almond edge. These cookies will store airtight for many months.
The second type is a larger puffier type of cookie, with a distinctive split surface, rolled in icing sugar before baking. The outside is crisp but the interior has a fudgey marzipan-like texture that is often delightfully chewy.
Both types are made from egg whites, sugar and ground almonds, sometimes with a splash of almond essence or Amaretto (almond) liqueur, and are naturally gluten-free.
Ratafia biscuits are similar. The name probably comes from ratafia liqueur, an almond flavoured liqueur that may have been used in the biscuits or served alongside them.
Amaretti di Saronno are from Lombardy, Italy, and the most famous brand is Lazzaroni. These cookies come wrapped in pairs in soft tissue paper with pastel printing and are sold in distinctive red tins or boxes. Legend has it that when the Cardinal of Milan visited the town of Saronno, Italy, way back when, two young lovers whisked up a batch of the cookies in his honour, and wrapped them in pairs to symbolize their love. It’s a great story; Lazzaroni have been making the cookies since 1781 from an unchanged recipe.
Amaretti can be crumbled into puddings, used as a topping, layered up in a trifle, crushed and sprinkle over whipped cream or buttercream on a cake or gateau. I love them mixed with cocoa and crumbled over stone fruit before baking.
Check out the following recipes: