Can you tell I am on a pistachio kick at the moment? The babka, todays cookies and I've just realised next weeks recipe is also heavily focused on these nuts. I would apologise but three delicious recipes with pistachios is no bad thing! Todays recipe is probably the easiest of the three and you can get these cookies in the oven in no time at all. These were inspired by my recent work trip to Sicily, where every pastry and ice cream shop seems to sell the most incredibly flavoured almond and pistachio treats, which makes sense when you realise some of the best almonds and pistachios in the world come from Sicily. This recipe uses both Italian ingredients and an Italian recipe, it's a twist on the amaretti. The style of amaretti I prefer is a slight chewy crust with a tender centre. There is nothing wrong with the crunchy or super chewy varieties this is just my preference. When it comes to the pistachios you can use the varieties found in supermarkets but you will notice they don't have the vibrancy of colour that comes from my preferred skinless, blanched variety (like these from SousChef) so the finished cookies will be a little flatter in colour. Pistachios are however pretty expensive, the green ones even more so, so choose the variety you are happy with and they will all taste wonderfully.
Soft Pistachio Amaretti
3 large egg whites
250g caster sugar, plus extra for coating
275g ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine salt
icing sugar, for coating
To make the cookies preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan) and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
Place half of the almonds and all of the pistachios and salt into a food processor and pulse until the pistachios are finely ground. The reason for adding half of the almonds with the pistachios is these vibrant green pistachios are on the soft side and if processed alone can become more of a paste rather than a powder like mix, adding some of the almonds prevents this from happening. Add the remaining almonds and blend to combine, then tip into a large bowl and mix through about half of the sugar.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whisk together the egg whites until foamy then slowly add the remaining sugar whisking until the meringue is in stiff peaks. Working in two additions add the meringue to the almond mixture along with the vanilla. We are not making meringue so don't worry too much about keeping all the air in the meringue, just make sure the mixture is evenly combined with no streaks of meringue. Once fully combined use an ice cream scoop (I use one about 1 heaped tablespoon in size) to form the cookies, dropping first into a small bowl of caster sugar, tossing to coat fully. This sugar coating gives the cookies the characteristic chew. To give the look of amaretti toss the cookies into icing sugar, rolling to coat fully and shape into a ball. Place the cookies onto the prepared baking trays, a few centimetres apart and then bake in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes. Bake just until the cookies have the smallest hint of browning where the cookies are cracking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully before enjoying.
Because of the ingredients these cookies will keep for a long time, at least a week in a sealed container. The longer the cookies sit the chewier they become.