Soft Amaretti: so many ideas for enjoying them

You’ve surely seen them in pastry shops, received them as a gift, tasted them as a snack or enjoyed them at the end of a meal... we’re talking about amaretti: the traditional Italian cookies that everyone loves.

Raise your hand if you’ve never heard of amaretti! Surely hardly anyone has their hand up right now!

One of their biggest strengths is their versatility: they are often a small gift offered when visiting friends and relatives, given as an elegant Christmas greeting, but also served as delicate pastries to enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea. And they’re not only enjoyed just as cookies: amaretti are often used as ingredients in delicious recipes!

Beloved and known by all Italians and appreciated by foreigners, amaretti win everyone over for their elegant simplicity and unmistakable taste.

This delicious cookie can be appreciated even more when you learn about its name. In fact, amaretto is a very special name for a sweet whose particular taste comes from bitter almonds, which are essential for its preparation.

Classic amaretti: origins and regional varieties

As you can imagine, given their popularity, amaretti are a dessert with a long history. In fact, they were first made in the Middle Ages in Arab countries, but became famous and began to really be appreciated starting from the Renaissance when, thanks to the greater availability of sugar, they spread in European countries and especially in Italy. In fact, here the famous sweet is present in different variants that differ from each other depending on how crunchy they are. Although often similar in shape, there are two versions in particular: one that is crispier and another that is softer. The second variant is the one recognized as being more classic.

Liguria, Sicily, Tuscany, Piedmont... numerous regions of Italy claim ownership of amaretti, a delicious cookie that can satisfy the desire for sweets guilt-free, thanks to its delicate taste.

To date, there are several regions with specific variations of the traditional recipe. Let’s learn about some of them.

In Lombardy, the best known versions include Amaretto di Gallarate and Nocciolino di Canzo. The first is famous for its irregular shape and consistency: in fact, the sweet has a surface with soft ridges that allow obtaining a crispy texture on the outside, with a soft consistency inside. The Nocciolini di Canzo, on the other hand, resemble the classic amaretto in shape and consistency, but, as their name suggests, are made with hazelnuts and are slightly smaller in size than traditional amaretti.

Traveling south towards Emilia-Romagna, we find the Amaretto di Modena. This version originated in various homes of Modena over time, so much so that there are different types depending on the amounts of ingredients and the proportion of sweet and bitter almonds used by the various households.

The Amaretti di Guarcino are typical of Lazio and appreciated for their distinct softness and delicate flavor. Their peculiarity? The elliptical shape given by the base of the wafer on which the dough of each cookie is placed before being baked.

Finally, a last version worth mentioning is Pasti ‘i Mennula, the typical almond pastries of Sicily. These sweets are usually in the form of a crescent-shaped ravioli, covered with icing decorated with sprinkles or chocolate. Their filling is made of ground almonds mixed with sugar, as if it were a jam, and enriched with flavorings and candied fruit. In short, in this case lightness gives way to a sweet tooth!

Those who love innovation will be pleased to know that each individual regional amaretti recipe is often customized and made even more mouthwatering. Chocolate chips, citrus flavors, chopped pistachios, spices... In short, make your choice based on your tastes and imagination.

This brief introduction explained the importance that each variant of this cookie has at a local level (and perhaps even made you want to try each one...). And yet there’s one version, that of Liguria and lower Piedmont, whose fame goes beyond regional borders: they are so appreciated as to be known throughout the Italian peninsula. And the Carli Soft Amaretti are made precisely with a recipe from this area.

Soft Amaretti: how they’re made

Now that you’re intrigued, let us explain how we make the soft amaretti based on the recipe of Mombaruzzo, a small town in the province of Asti. It is said that towards the end of the 18th century, the confectioner of the House of Savoy who had moved to Mombaruzzo created the very first version of this cookie, which was immediately successful and loved by all. The amaretti began to be sold and soon received awards and recognition at fairs and exhibitions throughout Italy.

The peculiarity of their simple taste, which their long-lasting success comes from, is based on an equally easy preparation. To make the recipe you only need 4 ingredients: almonds, sugar, egg whites and apricot kernels.

The classic recipe calls for the use of apricot kernels: the inner core of peach and apricot pits that give the amaretti that characteristic bitter taste. If you don’t have them on hand, you can substitute them with bitter almonds.

To make them, all you need is a blender, and only have to follow a few steps. Using the blender, process 250 grams of almonds and 50 grams of apricot kernels with 150 grams of sugar, i.e., half the amount required, and a little bit of 4 egg whites, previously whipped into stiff peaks. Then add the remaining egg whites and sugar until a thick mixture is obtained.
Transfer this mixture into a pastry bag, which is necessary in order to form small balls of dough on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. After moistening the surface of the amaretti with a little water and sprinkling them with powdered sugar, put them in the oven and let them cook until they have that typical golden color on the surface and the characteristic cracks.

Thanks to the recipe, you too can try your hand at making these amazing cookies. Yet as we all know, cooking takes time as well as passion and the unexpected is always lurking around the corner. To be on the safe side, you can opt for our Soft Amaretti based on the traditional recipe.

Great as a gift or to serve as a delightful treat at the end of a meal or with a cup of tea, the individually packaged Carli Soft Amaretti are ideal for giving your guests a sweet treat.

Some recipes with soft amaretti

As well as being delicious on their own, amaretti can also be used in various recipes. Before revealing some recipes that are ideal with amaretti, we suggest tasting them together with a glass of Marsala Superiore DOC. The noble character of this velvety, aromatic dessert wine makes it perfect for pairing with fruit and desserts such as soft amaretti. Combining one with the other, you’ll be able to fully appreciate both the richness and warm taste of the Marsala and the soft and fragrant heart hidden beneath the golden crust of every single amaretti.

If, on the other hand, you’re ready to tie on your apron and get busy in the kitchen, try using amaretti as an ingredient in a delicious pie or a traditional tiramisu.

Pies are a family dessert that remind us of Sundays spent in the company of our grandparents: one of those cakes that fills our hearts and delights the palate. The pie with ricotta, soft amaretti and Organic Fruit Spread Orange, ideal for serving at breakfast or snack time, is a mouth-watering preparation in which the various ingredients perfectly combine to create a wonderful combination.

After baking the shortcrust pastry base of your pie for about ten minutes, work on the filling: combine 200 grams of sieved ricotta with 80 grams of powdered sugar and a few soft crumbled amaretti cookies. Fill the shortcrust pastry with a layer of Organic Fruit Spread Orange and then pour the ricotta and amaretti cream over it, crumbling some amaretti on the surface as well. Bake in the oven at 375°F for about 20-30 minutes, until golden brown.

What if we told you that tiramisu can be made with soft amaretti instead of savoiardi (or ladyfingers)? In fact, the delicacy of amaretti is ideal for making this irresistible traditional dessert which, moreover, gets a breath of fresh air with the change of ingredients. The fragrance and texture of the amaretti will make your tiramisu special and win the hearts and palates of all the guests at your table.

Feel like experimenting in the kitchen? Indulge yourself by using amaretti as an ingredient in your creations. And if you need some inspiration, you can find several recipes on our website.