Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Amaretti Sammies

I've been gilding the lily on Amaretti cookies for years, taking commercially baked cookies and joining them together with Mascarpone cheese. I have no idea what inspired that combination, but it works. My main complaint about Amaretti is that they are too crisp, so perhaps I thought putting moist cheese between them would soften them up. It does and they become chewy perfection. Since I had leftover egg whites from Carbonara this week that needed to be used, I decided to use a published recipe for Amaretti by Janet Fletcher in her book Simple Italian. After reading through her recipe I wanted to tweak it a bit and use half as many pine nuts and a bit more sugar and almond extract. This is the result and although they'd look more typical with blanched almonds, I'm perfectly happy with the extra fiber added by using commercially available almond meal that includes skins.

4 extra large egg whites
2 1/2C almond meal
1C pine nuts plus extra for topping
1 1/4C sugar
1T almond extract
1/2 pt Mascarpone

Extra Equipment Needed:
2 cookie trays
parchment paper
pastry bag

Place 1 cup of pine nuts into a food processor and pulse until they are a fine grind, but not yet at the nut butter stage. Add these to the almond meal, mix thoroughly and set aside. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Now whip the egg whites into peaks, then gradually add the sugar until the whites are shiny. Fold in the almond extract and nut meals, then place the batter into a pastry bag. Squeeze the bag to make 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" cookies on the parchment paper. These cookies do not get much bigger than what you see raw, so adjust the size to your liking. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, cool, and sandwich Mascarpone cheese in between two cookies. Let sit for awhile before serving (20 minutes to an hour or so) so they will soften up a bit for the chewy texture.

I haven't tried it yet, but I believe adding powdered sugar (2T) to the cheese would sweeten it enough to make a nice difference.

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