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Brutti ma buoni alle nocciole

Hazelnut “Amaretti”

The recipe is adapted from Gualtiere Marchesi though you can find its ancestors as far back as the Renaissance.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

4 1/2 ounces (about 1 cup) hazelnuts

2 egg whites

2/3 cup sugar

1. Spread the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and toast until pale gold in a 350°F oven, about 10 minutes.  Wrap the nuts in a kitchen towel and let cool 10 minutes.  Rub together to get rid of as much skin as possible.  Chop by hand or grind them coarse in a food processor.

2. Preheat oven to 300°F.  Butter a cookie sheet.

3. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks in a metal bowl.  Beat in the sugar and beat until firm.  Add the hazelnuts.

4. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You’ll know it’s thick enough because it will not spread when formed into balls (see below).  If doesn’t you need to cook it longer.

5. Using 2 teaspoons form the batter into about 3 dozen balls and set on the prepared cookie sheet at least an inch apart.  Set in the oven and bake about 25 minutes until golden and cooked through.