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italian Archives | A Tipsy GiraffeA Tipsy Giraffe

Amaretti Cookies

Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, with delicious almond goodness – these Italian cookies are little bites of heaven 

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Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside with an a beautiful almond flavour- Italian Amaretti Cookies | GiraffesCanBake.com

Have you ever had a dream about baking or cooking something and then not been able to get it out of your head until you make said thing? Or is it just me that bakes in their dreams? Well, either way, I had a dream about baking Amaretti cookies and they were all I could think about! Which is weird considering they were a complete disaster in my dream (which turned out to be a little prophetic!) – but I adore Amaretti cookies, if a bakery has them I will always buy a dozen and eat them all in one day! So I set out to try and make these little beauties 

Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside with an a beautiful almond flavour- Italian Amaretti Cookies | GiraffesCanBake.com

It seems my dream was pretty accurate though and these innocent looking cookies were a nightmare to make. I don’t even know how many failed batches I made before I made that perfect batch,  it was enough that I almost gave up, I only kept going because I love these darn cookies so much! What is it about almond flour based cookies that are so tricky (I still haven’t mastered French Macarons)? I read countless recipes online, all of which differed fairly substantially so they ended up making me feel even more lost at times! 

Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside with an a beautiful almond flavour- Italian Amaretti Cookies | GiraffesCanBake.com

I tried lots of different things based on the recipes I’d read online and what I knew the cookies should taste and feel like. I tried – whole eggs added at once, egg yolks and egg whites added separately, egg yolks and whipped egg whites, just the whipped egg whites and just egg whites not whipped. I tried – making my own ground almonds, blanching the almonds before grinding and ready ground almonds. I also experimented with adding almond extract and different types of sugar they were rolled in! 

Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside with an a beautiful almond flavour- Italian Amaretti Cookies | GiraffesCanBake.com

I wasn’t exaggerating when I said I lost count of how many failed batches I had! I almost had to take out a mortgage to pay for all the almonds I went through (seriously, why are nuts so expensive?!). In the end, what worked for me was just egg whites by themselves, no whipping and ready ground almonds. If you can I would encourage you to make your own ground almonds, but with my food processor I just can’t get them as finely ground as I needed for the texture I wanted before it started to turn into butter. Whatever way you get your hands on ground almonds, you need to make sure they’ve been blanched first for the best taste. I also added a little almond extract to add a boost of flavour and rolled them in caster sugar to get that crisp outside. 

Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside with an a beautiful almond flavour- Italian Amaretti Cookies | GiraffesCanBake.com

I hope my failures haven’t put you off attempting to make these for yourself, because the end result really is worth the effort. In theory my recipe should give you the same results as me, but it’s a very temperamental dough and it needs to be just the right consistency for them to play nice – if your eggs are slightly bigger than mine or your almond flour slightly drier, you’re gonna get different results. So the key is to look at the dough and add a little more egg white or almonds if it’s too dry or too wet. This recipe calls for 250g ground almonds and 5 egg whites, but I would recommend having extra almonds and an extra egg white on hand so you can add a little more if needed. The dough itself is vey wet and sticky – it looks like kind of like the start of a cake batter after you’ve creamed the butter and sugar and started to mix in 1 egg! If that description leaves you a little confused, I’ve included a photo below (apologies for the poor quality, it was taken quickly with my iphone in bad lighting). 

amaretti cookie dough

Since it’s such a sticky dough it can be hard to roll into balls, the best way to do it I found (without making a huge mess and ending up with more dough on your hands than in the cookies) was to wet your hands and coat lightly in caster sugar. My other tip for these cookies is to use a light coloured baking sheet so the bottoms don’t cook too quickly, if you only have dark ones line it with three sheets of greaseproof paper. This dough doesn’t lend itself well to resting either, it’ll be fine to sit in the bowl while you’re baking a batch but if you roll them into balls and leave them out (or even in the fridge) for even a few hours the egg whites will start to separate from the dough – I learned this the hard way! 

Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside with an a beautiful almond flavour- Italian Amaretti Cookies | GiraffesCanBake.com

What you’re looking for in a successful batch are cookies that spread only a small amount and rise up a little in the centre, and of course you want them to crack. If your dough is too soft they’ll spread out in a mess (I wish I took a photo of my worst spread batch to share with you, they looked like a coconut macaroons ugly step brother!), if it’s too dry you’ll have hard, round balls with no cracking. These are definitely a goldie locks type cookie dough – it has to be just right or they’re gonna throw a tantrum (at least in this fairy tale cookie analogy no bears are gonna interrupt your post cookie nap… unless maybe you live in Canada or something!)

Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside with an a beautiful almond flavour- Italian Amaretti Cookies | GiraffesCanBake.com

I’m gonna bring these delicious bites of heaven to Fiesta Friday this week – because honestly, these cookies deserve a party! Come join us, there’ll be lots of yummy treats for the eyes, ears and mouth! 

Do come hang out with me on social media, I’d love to see you guys around there! You can find me on TwitterInstagramPinterest and Facebook

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(note for subscribers: I’m using a new service to send out my new posts by email which is much better for me and should hopefully be creating an easier reading experience for you – however you may have been noticing a few of my old posts coming to your email, it does this whenever I edit a post for the first time since setting up the service, so apologies for that! However you won’t receive the same post more than once no matter how many edits I make!) 

Now for the recipe, I’ll try and be as detailed as possible but if you have any questions just give me a shout 🙂

Amaretti Cookies
Yields 24
Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside - these Italian almond cookies are little bites of heaven
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Ingredients
  1. 250g finely ground almonds
  2. 1/4 tsp almond extract
  3. 200g caster sugar (extra fine granulated) - plus extra for rolling
  4. 5 large egg whites
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/350F. Line a light coloured baking sheet with 2 sheets of greaseproof paper.
  2. Mix the almonds, extract and sugar in a bowl.
  3. Add the egg whites one at a time, mixing to combine. Until you have a soft, sticky dough that's almost coming together. See notes for more info
  4. Roll into small balls, about 1 -1.5 inches, and roll in sugar. Place on baking sheet with a little space between each one (they won't spread very much so not a lot of space needed)
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until they are turning a light golden and are cracked along the top
  6. Cool on tray for a couple minutes, then transfer to wire wrack
Notes
  1. Dough should be very wet and sticky - it will look like the start of a cake batter mix after you've creamed butter and sugar and started to mix in the first egg. See main post for photo reference.
  2. You may need to add more almonds or more egg whites to get the right consistency. For every 10g of almonds you add, add 8g of sugar. If you're adding more egg whites, just pour a little in at a time.
  3. If you're unsure if the dough is right, bake one first and then adjust dough as needed - if the cookie is a hard ball with no cracks you need more eggs whites, if it's spread out way too much then you need more almonds.
  4. Store cookies in air tight container 1-2 weeks
A Tipsy Giraffe https://www.atipsygiraffe.com/
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Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside with an a beautiful almond flavour- Italian Amaretti Cookies | GiraffesCanBake.com

Hazelnut Gelato

Hazelnut Gelato

I know what you’re thinking – Michelle! It’s November! What are you doing posting a recipe for Gelato?! I know, I know, it’s a bit of a weird time to be posting an ice cream recipe, but I’m of the firm belief that it’s never too cold for ice cream. I bet even Steve Rogers wouldn’t have turned down a big bowl of this hazelnut gelato right after he got woken up after being frozen for 70 years! Is there anything I can’t bring back to Steve Rogers? That’s the real question here!

Hazelnut Gelato

The Italians really do know what they’re doing when it comes to food, don’t they? Gelato is one of their brightest shining achievements in my opinion, it’s so creamy and delicious I can never turn it down. Hazelnut, or Nocciola, gelato is definitely my favourite flavour – and I think it’s most other people’s too since it always seems to be first to go in all the gelato places I’ve been to! So when I decided to make some I knew it was going to be hazelnut gelato. 

Hazelnut Gelato

Hazelnut is such a wonderful flavour, and while it does go beautifully with chocolate I really wanted the nut to shine in this gelato. I couldn’t resist the call of Nutella entirely of course, so it’s got a little swirled right into it. It adds a hit of richness, while still letting the hazelnut take centre stage. 

Hazelnut Gelato

I was a bit apprehensive about making gelato, since I knew it would be a lot harder than my super easy no churn pumpkin pie ice cream. And while this gelato does need an ice cream machine and a little more effort, it’s totally worth it! What makes gelato so much better than ice cream? Honestly, I couldn’t put my finger on one definitive reason why it is better, but I definitely prefer it. Gelato has a lower fat content than ice cream (which totally means it’s healthy, right?) and less air is whipped into it, so it’s somewhat denser. It’s also, therefore, best served at a warmer temperature than ice cream. Ideally it’s best stored at a warmer temperature too, but I don’t expect anybody to change their freezer settings to accommodate gelato (but I wouldn’t judge you if you did!), you will just want to leave it out on the side for at least 15 -20 minutes before scooping and serving – that way you’ll get that elastic, soft serve kind of texture that we all love about gelato. I didn’t leave mine out to thaw long enough before taking photos, I was fighting against the clock, so I apologise for that! 

Hazelnut Gelato

And if you’re still not sold on the idea of gelato in November, maybe it’s a little too cold for you, try a scoop in your coffee or hot chocolate – it’s amazing and will allow you to enjoy the yumminess of gelato while staying nice and toasty! In fact, I could go for that myself right now! 

Hazelnut Gelato

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Hazelnut Gelato
Soft, delicious Italian gelato flavoured with hazelnuts
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Ingredients
  1. 100g hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
  2. 6 tbsp full fat milk
  3. 700ml full fat milk
  4. 240ml double cream
  5. 6 large egg yolks
  6. 225g caster sugar
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. 3 tbsp nutella
Instructions
  1. Put the the hazelnuts in a food processor, and process until coarsely chopped. With the processor still going, gradually add the 6 tbsp of milk and continue to process until you have a creamy paste. Add a little extra milk if needed. Transfer the paste to a bowl and set aside
  2. Heat the 700ml milk and cream in a saucepan over a medium heat until hot, but do not bring to the boil. Take off the heat and set aside.
  3. Add the egg yolks, sugar and salt to a bowl and whisk until thick and combined. Slowly add about 50ml of the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in another 50ml of the hot milk.
  4. Slowly whisk the egg mixture in to the rest of the milk mixture.
  5. Stir in the hazelnut paste and return to a medium heat.
  6. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring constantly, until you have a custard.
  7. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard to stop a skin forming.
  8. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, until cold.
  9. Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream machine for about 45 minutes or according to your ice cream maker's instructions.
  10. Once thickened, spoon the gelato into your chosen container and swirl through the nutella, cover and freeze for 4 hours or until firm.
  11. Remove gelato from the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving
Notes
  1. You can toast and skin the hazelnuts yourself by putting them on a baking sheet in a 180C/350F oven for about 10 minutes, until the skins start to crack. Then rub the skins off.
  2. To make the Nutella easier to swirl, warm it up first by either microwaving for 10 second intervals until smooth and runny. Or place the whole jar in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes.
A Tipsy Giraffe https://www.atipsygiraffe.com/
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