According to the legend of Amaretti di Saronno, the Cardinal of Milan unexpectedly visited the Italian town of Saronno in 1718. In his honor, two young lovers, Giuseppe and Osolina, quickly baked up a mixture of sugar, apricot kernels, and egg whites, creating crisp, airy cookies with a bittersweet almond flavor. To symbolize their love, they wrapped the cookies in pairs in colorful paper. The Cardinal was so pleased with the cookie, he blessed the couple, and they lived happily ever after, passing their recipe on for generations.
It’s no wonder the Cardinal was so impressed—these cookies are incredible! The soft amaretti taste intensely of almonds and are not too sweet. They are tender, something like a cross between marzipan and macaroon. Rest assured, these are nothing like the bland, crunchy/stale little cookies you see in the grocery store. According to one website, “Genuine amaretti are recognizable because they are made with truly simple ingredients: sugar, “armelline” obtained from apricot kernels, and egg white. Additionally, the dough is never altered by using flour, raising agents or flavorings; the standing of the dough and the slow baking give it that special essence and distinctive flavor. ” (I suspect this doesn’t hold true of the “soft” variety, but who knows?)
If a backpacking tour of Italy isn’t in your immediate future, you can pick up a package of Soft Amaretti here. They also come in a lemon variety.