Monday, October 1, 2012

Italian Amaretti cookies!

You plan, God laughs. Right?
This statement couldn't be more true. Like a perfect picnic in the park dumped on by grey clouds and greedy seagulls. Or the night that promised a cool, brisk evening to warrant a cute sweater dress, but an unexpected 31 degrees C totally creates a "pit out" situation (and walking around with my elbows pointing outwards in an attempt to air-dry made me look really weird). I had 14 things on my to-do list today and I've crossed off maybe...4. 

I thought Saturday mornings were meant for sleeping in when about a dozen magpies outside my window decided to have a singing war at 6:52 am. I threw cookies at them. I missed. I think they ate the cookies.

I wanted to bake brownies for you until I realized I ate all of my dark chocolate...but maybe that was just me, not God. I also wanted to take pretty pictures of these cookies, but my camera is on the other side of the world at the moment and so my point-and-shoot is getting up close and personal with my sweets.

Sometimes things do not work out the way you want them to and that can really suck. I have a tendency to build up expectations about things and maybe that can be a great attribute because it's like being optimistic, no? But then it becomes really easy to be disappointed. Here's a general rule: have really low expectations about things and then you will always be impressed!

Except always think highly of yourself because you know you work hard, you know you're good at what you do and you deserve the best. 

Also, you can definitely have high expectations about these cookies because they are completely addictive.

Amaretti are Italian cookies made with ground almonds and heavily flavoured with almond extract. I used to eat them constantly as a child at weddings and family functions, but they were never homemade. They always came from the Italian shop and were super crispy. Heck, I loved them.

You might have no clue how easy they are to make at home! Italians are like that though - they keep things simple. Their desserts are usually nothing too crazy, but they use simple techniques and let a single flavour or ingredient shine.

I love this recipe because they always turn out beautifully with that sugary sparkle and crackly top. They bake up with a crisp shell and chewy middle. Unlike the super crispy boxed version of these cookies that are made with egg whites only, these guys use the whole egg so they benefit from the bit of fat in the yolk to keep them a little soft in the middle. 

The best part is that these darlings have only 5 ingredients and can be tingling your tastebuds after only 25 minutes. Seriously, you can make these like right now!

No really...go make these.

Makes 16 cookies

170 g blanched ground almonds (almond meal)

100 g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

1 tsp cocoa powder

1 large egg

1 ½ tsp pure almond extract

granulated sugar for rolling

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together ground almonds, caster sugar and cocoa powder until evenly blended.

In a separate small bowl, whisk egg with almond extract until blended and smooth. Pour this mixture into the almond mixture and mix the dough with a spatula until it forms a thick paste-like dough. Roll ¾-ounce portions of dough into balls and then roll each ball in granulated sugar to coat. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spreading them about 1 ½ inches apart. Flatten each dough ball with the palm of your hand and bake until lightened in colour, lightly browned on the bottom and cracked at the surface, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and serve with a cup of strong coffee!

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