All Italian cookies are wonderful, but gluten free amaretti cookies just have to be one of the best ever! They go amazingly with coffee or another drink, and are the perfect snack at the end of a long day. This is the first of many Christmas baking ideas for this year.
Are you are looking for cute Christmas cookies ‘just like nonna used to make’? Maybe you fancy something sweet and yummy to spoil the family with. Try this Christmas cookies recipe for size!
You only need six ingredients to make gluten free amaretti cookies, and a little powdered sugar for rolling. Christmas baking couldn’t be simpler! Some people like to add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract to theirs. That’s optional though of course.
Authentic Italian Ingredients
We are using almond flour, and sugar, as well as egg whites, and almond extract. For a more authentic flavour, swap the almond extract for amaretto liqueur. Hey, why not? Christmas is coming after all, after one doozy of a year. Let’s do some holiday baking, and then eat, drink and be merry!
Some people even chop or grind these Christmas cookies up and add them to trifles and other desserts to boost both flavour and texture. Once you have prepared these little treats, you might want to try this out, especially if they get a day or so past their prime.
What is Amaretto Liqueur?
In this recipe I used almond extract flavouring, but if you have it Amaretto liqueur is the traditional ingredient. Amaretto is an almond flavoured liqueur from Saronno, Italy. It makes a great aperitif and kicks off any party in style. The only thing sweeter than a glass of Amaretto is enjoying these tasty gluten free amaretti cookies on the side. Go on, spoil yourself!
What Does Amaretti Mean Anyway?
The word ‘Amaretti’ is the Italian way of saying macarons. These little treats are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, just like French macarons. (Those are not to be confused with macaroons which are super-heavy and made with coconut flakes).
The Italian word ‘amaro’ translates into English as ‘bitter’. This is because these cookies are flavoured with bitter almonds. Following on from that, ‘amaretti’ literally means ‘small bitter ones’.
Sometimes amaretti cookies are sandwiched together with jam, buttercream or ganache, like their French equivalents. A bowl of vanilla ice cream goes well with a couple of gluten free amaretti cookies too. That could be a great idea if you’re in both a holiday baking and ice cream mood!
Surprising Facts about Amaretti
Amaretti were first created in Venice, Italy, and date all the way back to the renaissance era (mid-1600s). They were traditionally served with a liqueur or sweet dessert wine. Oh yes, those renaissance folks knew how to party.
Fast forward a hundred years or so, and these Christmas cookies were mass produced. They came in decorative tins, individually wrapped in beautifully decorated, delicate paper.
In fact, the paper was so delicate, it was said you could roll it and light it on fire. It would then glide beautifully upward and you could make a wish. Legend had it that if the paper floated as high as the ceiling, your wish would come true. I don’t recommend doing this though – unless you have a fire extinguisher handy anyway!
Another legend has it the first amaretti were made from ground apricot kernels, rather than almonds. They had to be baked at a high temperature because apricot kernels contain cyanide, something we don’t really want in our cookies!
A Speedy Snack Back Home in Italy
These little cookies are found all over Italy, and not just during Christmas baking months. They are typically dome shaped and range from 1½ to 2 inches wide.
Amaretti are sometimes known as ‘biscotti da credenza’ which means they can sit in the kitchen drawer (credenza) for a while. At least, until someone wants a speedy snack or the kids get home from school hungry.
Gluten Free Amaretti Cookies Recipe
Gluten Free Amaretti Cookies
- 500 g almond meal about 5.2 cups
- 300 g sugar about 1.33 cups, caster sugar if you can find it
- 5 egg whites
- 1 oz almond extract approx one bottle, or use almond liquer
- 4 cups icing sugar to roll them in
- Place the 5 egg yolks in a bowl and whisk until bubbles form.
- Add the almond extract (or liqueur) and whisk again.
- In a separate bowl, combine the almond meal and sugar together.
- Pour the egg white mixture into the dry ingredient bowl. Thoroughly mix.
- If needed, you can use your hands to combine everything. If it feels wet or sticky, add a small amount of almond meal.
- Refrigerate overnight or for a few hours minimum.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Put the icing sugar into a shallow bowl.
- Make a 1" ball with the dough in your hands. If your hands get sticky dip a finger in a bowl of water and wet palms.
- Roll each amaretti cookie ball in the icing sugar. Shake off excess and place on the baking sheet. Repeat to use all the dough.
- Bake cookies for 15 minutes until lightly brown. Remove from tray to cool on a rack.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
Rustle Up a Batch… or Two!
These classic, gluten free amaretti cookies are also suitable for any dairy free guests, so you might want to double the recipe. You definitely won’t want to run out of these popular little bites.
Once you’re in a holiday baking mood, these are quite fun to make. The recipe itself is simple, even if you don’t usually do much Christmas baking. Clean-up is a snap too. You will have it all done by the time these cook and cool down.
Perhaps you want to get a few of your friends together, or even make these gluten free amaretti cookies with the family one evening. They are certainly one of the most special and festive kinds of Christmas cookies.