Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Delicious! Amaretti Cookies review.

I have a huge weakness for pretty packaging and sweets. Together, I certainly can't resist.

The first thing that caught my eye as I browsed the Winner's Gourmet Food section, was the beautiful old-world feel tin (I love Winners! Fancy things at un-fancy cost!). I had to have it, regardless of what was inside.

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So I brought my lovely cookies home (7.99$, regular price 16.99$), and was delighted to find, once opened, that the cookies came wrapped like brightly-coloured candies. Making them great to serve to guests with tea, or for a light dessert with coffee, since they'll be pretty and won't get stale or dry.

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The actual cookies themselves are delicious! They're soft,and have a really interesting flavour that is like a light mixture of almond and anise. It's not over-powering like a lot of almond flavoured desserts that rely on almond extract. I really don't know what else to say about them other than I'm now addicted.

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Amaretti Cookie information:
Amaretti (pronounced "am-ah-REHT-tee") is the Italian name for macaroons, which means little bitter things. These small, domed-shaped cookies that are crisp and crunchy on the outside and soft inside, originated in Venice Italy during the Renaissance period. Amaretti cookies are made from either ground almonds or almond paste, along with sugar and egg whites and can be flavored with chocolate or liqueurs. Oftentimes, two baked cookies are sandwiched together with ganache, buttercream or jam. Traditionally these cookies were served with a sweet dessert wine or liqueur, but they are also a wonderful accompaniment to a bowl of ice cream, sherbets, or mousses. Another favorite way to use these cookies is to finely grind them and then add them to desserts (such as trifles) for added texture and flavor.

And if you can't find these delectable amaretti cookies in store, here's a recipe to make your own. From "Joy of Baking":

Amaretti Cookies:
8 ounces (225 grams) canned almond paste

1 cup (200 grams) superfine or castor white sugar

2 large (60 grams) egg whites

Extra white sugar or Swedish pearl sugar for dusting cookies

Note: Make your own superfine sugar by processing regular granulated white sugar in your food processor for about 30 seconds or until sugar is ground very fine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) plain tip.

Using Food Processor: Break the almond paste into small pieces and place in bowl of food processor, with the sugar. Pulse until the mixture is very fine. Add the egg whites in three additions, processing well after each addition. Continue processing the dough until very smooth (about one minute).

Using Electric Mixer: Break the almond paste into small pieces and place in bowl of electric mixer along with the sugar. Mix on low speed until very fine. Add the egg whites in three additions, mixing well after each addition. Continue mixing the dough until very smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Fill the pastry bag with the almond mixture. Pipe 1 1/2 inch (3.75 cm) mounds onto the parchment paper, spacing about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. After you have filled the baking sheet with cookie mounds, take a damp paper towel and lightly press the top of each cookie to smooth out the surface (you want to smooth out the tip of dough at the top of each cookie caused from piping). Lightly sprinkle a little sugar on top of each cookie.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cookies have risen, are a deep golden color and have tiny cracks. Remove from the oven and place baking pan on a rack to cool. When cool gently peel cookies from parchment. If they stick to parchment, turn the paper over, take a damp paper towel and gently wipe the bottom of the parchment paper to loosen the cookie.

Makes about 40 cookies.

You can always wrap your cookies in decorative wax paper or even patterned onigiri wrappers to get the "candy" look :)

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