Friday, 9 February 2018

In Memory - Soft Italian Amaretti Cookies (gluten and dairy free)


It has been a long time since I posted on Gluten Free Alchemist, but I make no apology. 2018 did not start well. January was a long, long month and one in which I unexpectedly lost my mother to Pancreatic Cancer.

Although she had probably had this ugly disease for a long time, it was only a week and half from when she was diagnosed to her death. Needless to say, the blog has not been uppermost in my mind.

I have now lost both of my parents to cancer (my father when I was just 18) and thus last week's World Cancer Day on 4th February held a particular poignance for me. I worry that I may now become somewhat over-aware of every little pain and niggle.


Looking back over the last couple of years, my mother's Pancreatic Cancer must have lain 'undiscovered' for many many months, if not years..... With my new found google-induced wisdom on how it presents, I now realise that many of the symptoms were clear as day..... the doctors simply did not look in the right place at the right time or consider her symptoms with appropriate curiosity.

There is a good reason that Pancreatic Cancer is known as the 'Silent Killer'. It masquerades itself within symptoms which could be anything but..... Yet it kills with the precision of a carefully-targeted bullet and has a 5 year survival rate of only just over 3%.


At this time I do not wish to dwell on what it meant to (all too briefly) care for my mother in her final days, but would urge you to look up how this deadly disease manifests and stay armed with that knowledge just in case you ever need to know.


It was my mother who gave us our Italian heritage and also our love of food. Born to Italian parents, she introduced us early to foods that my friends had never heard of, let alone eaten. Visits to my 'Nana's' house would often mean dodging fresh-made spaghetti draped around the kitchen and I would relish our trips with Mum to the Italian delicatessen to pick up ravioli shells ready to fill with spinach and cheese, finely sliced salami, parma ham, olives and the annual boxed Panettone.

There was always cake or dessert in our house too. Endless cake! Mum loved to bake and never needed an excuse to feed us with the sweet stuff. A meal wasn't finished until we had devoured 'pudding'.


In memory of my Mum and in celebration of her life and Italian roots, I decided last weekend to make some Soft Italian Amaretti Cookies. These traditional cookies come either crunchy or soft, but always have an intense sweet almond hit. I love both, but decided on this occasion to opt for the soft chewy version which have an almost marzipan quality to them. They also somehow seemed more comforting in my grief.

They are incredibly simple to make and a batch can be created from end to end (and probably eaten) in 30 to 40 minutes flat. Flavour them with a good hit of Italian Amaretti liqueur (I use Disaronno) or for a slightly more intense taste and aroma, add a little almond extract. Either way, with their crisp shell and slightly gooey interior, you will find it difficult to leave them alone, so plan ahead and make a double batch.....


Although I made them in memory of my Mum, these cookies make the perfect gift, whether for Valentines, birthdays, Mother's Day or Christmas.

I am sharing these Amaretti Cookies with :


Cook Blog Share with Easy Peasy Foodie

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too







Inheritance Recipes with Coffee & Vanilla and Pebble Soup

Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain



Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice

Free From Fridays with Free From Farmhouse and Le Coin De Mel






Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Fiesta Friday #210 with Angie, Laurena at Life Diet Health and Jhuls at The Not So Creative Cook



Soft Italian Amaretti Cookies (makes about 18 to 20 cookies)

Ingredients 

2 large egg whites (approx 70g)
190g ground almonds
170g caster sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
20 ml Amaretti liqueur and/or ½ teaspoon almond extract

to coat :
2½ tablespoons caster sugar
2½ tablespoons icing sugar

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3. Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
  2. In a large clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks.
  3. Fold in the almonds, sugar and vanilla.
  4. Gently stir through the liqueur and/or almond extract. You should now have a very thick, sticky dough.
  5. Tip the caster sugar and icing sugar for coating the cookies into two shallow bowls.
  6. Scoop out walnut-sized chunks of the dough using teaspoon and roll into balls using your hands (the mix is very sticky, so I use food gloves when I roll).
  7. Roll each ball as you make it in the caster sugar followed by the icing sugar and place on the baking tray, leaving a slight gap between them. 
  8. Very slightly squash the top of each ball with your finger.
  9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until crisp on the outside, but still quite pale in colour.
  10. Leave to cool on the baking tray for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated

43 comments:

  1. I adore amaretti cookies because of that wonderful almond flavor. These look absolutely delicious! But more importantly, what a beautiful tribute to your Mum, Kate, and I'm heartily sorry for your loss. My heart aches for you. I hope that this year brings inner healing and much love and support from your family and friends.

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    1. Thank You Michelle for your kind words. I am certainly hoping that the year improves and that we can all move forward with our precious memories. x

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  2. I didn't know you had Italian heritage! I'm sure you must get your love and talent for baking from your mum and going back to your roots. It's lovely to have so many happy memories of time spent with her. Sending lots of love to you and your family. These look stunning and would be worthy of any delicatessen xx

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    1. Thank You Emma. Yes.... the Italian heritage has always felt very important despite being UK born and bred. I think Mum was always proud to have passed her love of cooking on, although was often bemused by some of our new fangled ingredients! x

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  3. Glad to see you do what you love after your ordeal. I mentioned in a comment on Facebook that my own mum died from the same nasty disease so I know what you went through especially near the end. You made your mum proud with these cookies, they look awesome:)

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    1. Thank you Monika. I am sorry to hear that you too have experienced the horridness of this disease. The cookies were very comforting x

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  4. I'm so so sorry to hear about your loss Kate. Sending you lots of hugs. At the same time it's lovely to see these beautiful cookies as a tribute to your mum and your Italian roots. Thank you so much for sharing with #CookOnceEatTwice xxx

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    1. Thanks Corina. Received!
      The cookies seemed the right thing to make and were so yummy they needed to be shared x

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  5. Oh Kate, how terribly sad and what an awful time for you. My heart goes out to you. I've never made cookies like these and I never had the pleasure of knowing your mum but I will make these this half term and will think happy thoughts of her. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Helen x

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Helen. They are lovely and very moreish cookies and indeed a fitting tribute. Enjoy x

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  6. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. I lost my father to Pancreatic cancer 10 years ago and had just 10 weeks from diagnosis to his passing and loss my mother many more years ago within a couple of weeks of being taken ill with something altogether different but it does mean I have some idea of what you have gone . Loosing someone you love so quickly is so very hard.

    I think this blog post is beautiful and a fitting tribute to your mother and your Italian roots. I am sure she would be very proud.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words and thoughts Jacqui. The speed of the loss has felt quite surreal and has left many things unsaid. But I hope she would be proud of my cookies and I know that she would have enjoyed eating them x

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  7. I used to love these so I'm going to attempt them with aquafaba and honour the memory of your mum...this is a touching piece you've written here Kate and I'm all for passing on knowledge that could help others, god forbid they should ever be concerned about themselves or a loved one. Keep baking mum's recipes, it's wonderful therapy and eating the product brings the family together....all my love darling xxx

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    1. Thank you Rebecca. Baking is wonderfully therapeutic, especially when it connects you to those you have lost.
      It's funny..... I was wondering as I made them how they might work with Aqua Faba. You'll have to let me know x

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  8. I am so sorry to hear of your sudden loss. My thoughts are with you and your family. Baking is a lovely way to remember the happy memories.

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  9. What a beautiful tribute. Sending love.

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  10. So sorry to hear about the death of your mother. My warm wishes and thoughts are with you during these difficult times - the world must feel quite different without both parents about. I love hearing about your Italian heritage and your happy memories of baking and feeding - am sure you will keep baking and remembering your mother for a long time. These biscuits sound wonderful.

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    1. Thanks for your kindness Johanna. It does feel rather strange being 'orphaned'.... even at my age. Parents are always so quick to offer care and advice and whether you want to hear the advice or not, when it is not there, it is missed! At least there are precious memories x

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  11. My sister was very ill when she returned here to live, from Turkey. Pancreatic cancer, massive operation, loads of chemo, so far, she is doing well. So sorry about your mum, horrible disease. Made me look up the symptoms as well. Take care my dear.

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    1. Oh goodness DC. That sounds awful. I wish your sister a safe recovery and hope she continues to do well. x

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  12. Wow reading this I now understand how you got your incredible talent for baking which you now share selflessly here. Your mum would be so proud if you sharing this recipe. I’d love to see more Italian recipes! You’ve been through a lot so take your time to take stock. Look at what’s important in your life and do more of it. I’m thinking of you a lot...I know that doesn’t help you but tell me if there is something I can do to help. Off to share this fab recipe xxx

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  13. Kate what a lovely post in memory of your mother. I wish you greater strength and happiness with each day. These cookies both look and sound absolutely perfect and sharing them in this way will make your memories live on. Thank you so much for linking up and sharing your story at Fiesta Friday. Thanks also for the tags on FB & Insta! Hugs to you x

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    1. Thank you. You're welcome. Food inheritance is an absolute privilege x

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  14. I am so sorry again for your loss, Kate.
    These cookies look awesome! Thanks for sharing at FF party!

    Hugs,
    Jhuls

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  15. I'm so sorry for your loss Kate, I hope that making these beautiful cookies in memory of your mum has helped with the grieving process. Baking can be great therapy. Sending lots of love!

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    1. Thank you Kat. Baking is definitely great therapy..... I may end up putting on a lot of weight! x

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  16. I'm so sorry to hear of your Mum's passing Kate.
    What a lovely tribute to her, they look absolutely divine and given that you describe them as having marzipan qualities I am imagining them to be very very moreish. You've done her memory proud :-)
    Take care lovely,
    Angela xx

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Angela. I hope Mum would be proud. Either way, the cookies are definitely very very moreish x

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  17. Oh Kate - what a lot you've been through. Your poor thing. It's sad to lose anyone...but to lose your mum so quickly and suddenly to such a nasty disease must have been especially horrible. But what a lovey tribute to her, these amaretti look amazing...and we can be sure that your mum's cooking legacy will continue to live on in all your wonderful bakes...and Miss GF's too!! And thanks for linking up to #CookBlogShare. Eb x

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    1. Thank you Eb. I think it was the speed of the deterioration that was most shocking and quite surreal. With terminal cancer you always think that you have at least a few weeks, so this has left us quite dazed.
      The family food legacy will definitely stay with us though and I am sure will bring us much comfort x

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  18. Kate, my heart goes out to you and I am sending my deepest condolences to you and your family, what a truly sad start to 2018; the end of 2016 was the same for me, when just before Christmas, I lost my dad, so I know how it feels. Please take time to grieve, and also, be sure to talk about your mum, in order to keep her memory alive, it helped me. May happy memories of your life with her and all she did for you sustain you through the sad times.....much love being sent to you, Karen xxx

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    1. Thank you Karen for your kind words and thoughts. They are much appreciated x

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  19. Im so sorry about the rough start to the year!

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    1. Thank you Patrick. I am hoping things will improve x

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  20. Dear Kate, I am really sorry to hear that your mum has passed away and so suddendly too. I can only imagine how hard it must be for you right now. Your mum left you with some lovely memories and an Italian heritage and I can see that, your amaretti here look incredible and so are (once again) your fabulous pictures.
    Take care Kate, time will heal the wounds and if you want to talk about Italian things or just have a coffee perhaps we could meet up one day. I live in Tunbridge Wells not too far from you (I think).
    Lots of love xx

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    1. Thank you Alida for your kind words. I am proud of my Italian roots and the food that comes with it and I will try to ensure I pass that down to my daughter.
      It would be lovely to meet up some time. Tunbridge Wells is really near, so we should definitely make a plan x

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  21. Kate, I'm very sorry to hear about your mum! �� And thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to her Italian roots with the Inheritance Recipes.

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  22. I am so sorry or your loss. I have also lost both my parents to cancer and like you I do worry when there seems to be something wrong.
    Your Amaretti Cookies sounds absolutely divine! And you make them sound so easy! Take care! x

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