(Read in Italian) The first time I ever tried an Amaretto Soffice of the Biscottificio del Sassello brand name, I thought I had “toccato il cielo con un dito” literally in Italian “touched the sky with a finger“. I would say in English “I died and went to heaven” but I realize that it isn’t possible to translate that phrase into English with out it having a negative connotation…because if I try to say this literally in Italian “”sono morta e sono andata in paradiso” it comes off more like: “I died and went to heaven…meaning I died and was buried!” and seeing as I want to convey the opposite of actually dying and being put into a hole in the ground I must be happy with these phrases: “essere al settimo cielo” o “toccare il cielo con un dito!” or “I am in seventh heaven” or “I touch the sky with my finger“.
For my birthday at the end of March, my Italian friends included a package of these little cookies in a box with several other birthday surprises that they sent to me via the post. Seeing as that I am on a diet and for a snack usually eat apples instead of sweets, I thought that if I were to put the cookies out of my path of vision high up on a shelf in the pantry, I would fool myself into thinking they actually didn’t exist. But, the other day, while I was moving around cans of tuna and packages of pasta in a burst of energy aimed at reorganizing the larder, said package of Amaretto Soffice fell off the top shelf and hit me in the head.
Up to then I hadn’t read the packaging label that well. Perhaps if I had read it I would have ripped open the bag with more alacrity, throwing my diet to hell in a handbasket that much sooner. Never having eaten an Amaretto Soffice, I thought I would find hard dry little biscuits, devoid of flavor. But, come on! What was I thinking! These after all are Italian cookies and obviously I hadn’t read the key word: “soffice – soft” on the label. Rather than being hard little bullets, Amaretto Soffice are the softest, spongiest cookies that taste like almond paste. Each cookie is individually wrapped and is shaped like a little cap and has a crinkly surface. The cookies in a word are… tasty-issimo!
Amaretto Soffice are cookies typical of Liguria. As for the brand name, Biscottificio del Sasello, Biscottificio means “cookie factory” and “Sassello” means the town of Sassello in the Savona province near Genoa. Layla Benazzi who write the blog “Cavolo Verde” explains that: the art of Ligurian sweets is not all that well known, due to the difficulties in obtaining sugar in past centuries. All the sweet recipes are more recent and often were developed just after the war, or are recipes that share origins with other regions. Originally Ligurian sweets were “poor” sweets because they were created with very simple easily obtainable ingredients, which today have become massed produced with variations of a few basic recipes.
After having taken the photos of the cookies you see above, over a period of just a few days, I managed to single handedly eat most of the cookies in the bag. My bad! However, I did a google search hoping to find a place to buy the cookies here in the states in order to replenish my stash. Unfortunately I found that there are few of these cookies available to those who live beyond the Italian borders. But die hard fans of Amaretto Soffice don’t despair! I have found instead a recipe to prepare the cookies at home. Here is a simple recipe for Amaretto Soffice that I found on Layla Benazzi’s blog:
Amaretti del Sassello:
- 300 gr di zucchero
- 250 gr di mandorle pelate
- 50 gr di armelline (le piccole mandorle che si trovano dentro i noccioli di albicocca)
- 4 albumi
- burro q.b.
Tostate le mandorle in forno per dieci minuti, quindi passatele nel mixer con lo zucchero.
Montate gli albumi a neve, poi incorporateli al composto facendo attenzione a non smontarli.
Versate il tutto in una tasca da pasticcere e distribuite il composto a piccoli mucchietti su una placca imburrata. Cuocete a forno caldo per 20 minuti circa, fino a che non sono dorati.
Here is a video in Italian that demonstrates how to make the cookies: