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AMARETTI--Italian Macaroons

8 oz. canned almond paste
1 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
granulated sugar for finishing

Break the almond past into small pieces and combine it with the
sugar in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer. Mix on low speed with
the paddle until very fine. Add the egg whites in 4 additions,
mixing about 1 minute between each. Beat the paste until very
smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain tube (Ateco #6) with
the mixture. Line 2 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans with parchment.
Pipe the mixture onto the paper in 1 to 1 1/2 inch mounds, about
1 inch apart.

Fold a clean kitchen towel into a long strip and moisten the towel
with water. Squeeze lightly to eliminate excess water, leaving
the towel more than damp. Slap the surface of the amaretti gently
with the towel to moisten them and make the surface smooth. Sprinkle
the amaretti with the granulated sugar.

Bake the amaretti at 375F for about 15 to 20 minutes, until they
are well risen and a deep golden color and their surface is covered
with tiny cracks. Remove from the oven and place the pans on racks
to cool.

To remove the amaretti from the paper, turn the paper over, with
the amaretti still adhering to it, and wet the paper with hot water,
using a brush. Leave for a few minutes and then pull on the paper
to release the amaretti.

Makes about 3 dozen.

VARIATIONS:

Amaretti ai Pignoli

After moistening the piped amaretti with the towel, strew them with
1 cup pine nuts, sprinkling them on heavily and then pressing
lightly with your fingertips so that they adhere. Do not dust with
sugar. Bake as for the plain amaretti.

Fior di Mandorla

Prepare as for the plain amaretti, up to and including moistening
them with the towel. Allow the piped mixture to dry at room
temperature, uncovered, at least 12 hours or overnight.

After the amaretti have dried, dust them heavily with confectioner's
sugar, giving them at least a 1/4 inch coating. Then indent each
of the piped mounds with your thumb and the first and middle fingers
of one hand, positioning them an equal distance apart from each
other around the circumference and pinching gently inward, about
halfway into the center. Bake the fior di mandorla at 375F for
about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and loosen the fior di mandorla as
for the plain amaretti.

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