Delicious, almond-infused, traditional soft Italian Amaretti cookies which are naturally gluten and dairy free. Made with ground almonds, they have an almost marzipan quality to them. Perfect with a cheeky cup of coffee.
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Soft Italian Amaretti Cookies for World Cancer Day
These Soft Italian Amaretti Cookies are truly special. They were made in memory of my mother who I sadly lost unexpectedly in early 2018 to Pancreatic Cancer. But they are also a fitting tribute to the 9.6 million people who die every year from cancer worldwide, as well as to those incredible people who work tirelessly every day to find cures and treatments.
The 4th February marks World Cancer Day, which since the start of the millennium has been used to raise awareness of and take action against this deadly disease.
I have lost both my parents to cancer (my father when I was just 18), as well as many friends and colleagues over the years. Thus, World Cancer Day feels particularly poignant, and although I originally published this recipe for Amaretti cookies back in 2018, it seems the right time to update and share again.
Pancreatic Cancer – ‘The Silent Killer’
Although my mum had probably had this ugly disease for a long time, it was only a week and a half from diagnosis with Pancreatic Cancer to her death. It seems inconceivable that symptoms were not identified earlier. Her cancer must have lain ‘undiscovered’ for many months, if not years…
Pancreatic Cancer is known as the ‘Silent Killer’ with good reason. It masquerades 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 less than 7% (the lowest of all common cancers).
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer can be vague and easily explained away. They include abdominal and back pain, indigestion, weight loss, changes in bowel habits, bloating and wind, loss of appetite, nausea and recently diagnosed diabetes.
Mum had pretty much all of them at one stage or another and over a number of years. Some were explored and tested, but all were ultimately dismissed. Shockingly, not one medical professional questioned the health of her pancreas.
I now realise that many of the symptoms were as clear as day and that the doctors simply did not look in the right place at the right time, or consider them with appropriate curiosity.
I won’t dwell on what it meant to (all too briefly) care for my mother in her final days. But I 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.
Why these Italian Amaretti Cookies are truly special
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 often meant dodging fresh-made spaghetti draped around the kitchen. And I relished trips to the Italian deli to pick up ravioli shells, finely sliced salami, Parma ham, olives and the annual boxed Panettone.
There was always cake or dessert in the house too. Mum loved to bake and never needed an excuse to feed us with sweet stuff. A meal wasn’t finished until ‘pudding’ had been devoured.
In memory of my Mum and in celebration of her life and Italian roots, it seemed only fitting to make something authentically Italian and traditional. And so came about these Soft Italian Amaretti Cookies.
What are Soft Amaretti Cookies?
Traditional in Italy, Amaretti cookies are often shared as gifts and at celebrations. The soft cookies should not however be confused with their dry-baked, crunchy relations. Soft Amaretti cookies are pungent with an intense almond hit and have a chewy, cracked outer shell surrounding a soft, almost-marzipan centre.
Known in Italy as Amaretti morbidi (morbidi meaning ‘soft’), they are heavenly rapture for almond lovers. But they are also naturally dairy and gluten free, being made with little more than ground almonds, egg white and sugar. Even better, Amaretti are incredibly simple to make… A batch can be created from end to end (and probably eaten) in 30 to 40 minutes flat.
Flavour them with a generous hit of Italian Amaretti liqueur (I use Disaronno). And for a slightly more intense flavour and aroma, add a little extra almond extract. Either way, with their crisp shell and slightly gooey interior, you will find these cookies difficult to leave alone. The solution? Plan ahead and make a double batch…
When to share Amaretti Morbidi
Amaretti Cookies are total heaven alongside a cup of coffee. But they also make a perfect foodie gift, whether for Valentines Day, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Christmas. They also make perfect ‘comfort’ cookies.
Why not give them a try? They are really easy to make, so no excuses are needed… And if you do make them, let me know! I’d love to hear how you like them. Pop a comment below or tag me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Come follow me! Or subscribe using the box below for all the latest from Gluten Free Alchemist.
love these Amaretti cookies? you’ll love my other nutty cookie recipes Too :
- Soft Nutty Cookie Mounds
- Gluten Free Lebkuchen Cookies
- Baci Di Dama (Ladies Kisses)
- Melt-In-The-Mouth Hazelnut Biscuits
- Nutella Thumbprint Cookies
- Blackcurrant & Dark Chocolate Macaron
- Raspberry & White Chocolate Macaron
- Pistachio & Vanilla Shortbread
Soft Italian Amaretti Cookies (gluten free; dairy free)
- baking trays
- baking paper
- Kitchen scales
- measuring spoons
- large mixing bowl
- electric whisk
- large mixing spoon
- 2 shallow bowls
- food gloves (optional)
- wire cooling rack
- 2 large egg whites (approx 70g)
- 190 g ground almonds (almond meal)
- 170 g caster sugar
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 20 ml Amaretti liqueur and/or ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 2½ tbsp caster sugar
- 2½ tbsp icing sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3. Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
- In a large very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks.
- Fold in the almonds, sugar and vanilla.
- Gently stir through the liqueur and/or almond extract. You should now have a very thick, sticky dough.
- Tip the caster sugar and icing sugar for coating the cookies into two, separate shallow bowls.
- Scoop out walnut-sized chunks of the dough using teaspoon and roll into balls using your hands (the mix is very sticky, so food gloves may be helpful).
- 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.
- Very slightly squash the top of each ball with your finger.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until crisp on the outside, but still quite pale in colour.
- Leave to cool on the baking tray for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Soft Italian Amaretti Cookies shared with :
- Meatless Monday with Confessions of a Mother Runner and A Whisk and Two Wands
- What’s for Dinner with The Lazy Gastronome
- Cook Blog Share with Crumbs & Corkscrews
- Baking Crumbs with Apply to Face Blog
This post was originally published on 9th February 2018 and updated on 3rd February 2020
Previously shared (2018) with : Cook Blog Share with Easy Peasy Foodie; 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; Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum; Fiesta Friday #210 with Angie