Amaretti Mombaruzzo Style / Amaretti di Mombaruzzo
In Mombaruzzo, known as the Amaretti town of the Monferrato, near Asti, there are almost more producers than residents making traditional amaretti that are both sweet and bitter. Once a year, residents gather for a festival celebrating the village’s prized product. People come from all over the region to taste what they already know to be a delectable treat. Amaretti di Mombaruzzo are also made with hazelnuts or chocolate bits added, but the classic recipe only contains four ingredients: egg whites, sugar, finely ground blanched whole almonds and bitter almonds (from the apricot kernel.)
The recipe for these soft amaretti dates back to 1700. Legend tells us that a young girl from Sicily revealed a secret recipe for them due to her love for Francesco Giacinto Moriondo, who was the bursar to the Savoia family, and who moved to Mombaruzzo, taking the secret recipe with him. Several pastry chefs began to produce Mombaruzzo amaretti. Francesco made this cookie by adding a handful of peach and apricot pits. This is what gives these cookies their traditional bitter flavor. Today they are a PAT or Traditional Agricultural Product whose recipe is protected geographically by the Italian government.
Since bitter almonds are not available here in the States, we’ve omitted them from the recipe. The cookies are wrapped in pretty wax paper by the bakeries before they are sold.
Makes about 2 dozen 2-inch cookies
- 1 1/2 cups blanched whole almonds
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, plus extra for dusting/coating
- 2 large egg whites
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Finely grind the almonds in a food processor until reduced to almost a powder; add the 2 cups confectioner’s sugar and pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Whip the egg whites with a hand mixer or whisk until soft peaks form. Combine the egg whites with the almond mixture until a sticky dough forms.
- Have a container ready with about 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar.
- Working with small amounts, form the dough into logs about 1/2-inch thick on a board lightly sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. Cut crosswise with a knife into 1-inch pieces and roll into balls with your hands. Toss them in the confectioner’s sugar to coat well. Place them on the baking sheets.
- Or spoon the dough into a tipless pastry bag and pipe dabs of dough about the size of a Hershey Kiss onto the parchment-lined baking sheets. Dust the dabs of dough with confectioner’s sugar.
- Bake until firm but not browned, about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack
- Store in a tightly sealed cookie tin or plastic container.
This recipe was featured on Season 29 - Episode 2915.