ALCOHOL WARNING: This latest blog post is for those of legal age to consume alcohol.
People cook with alcohol for a number of reasons. In essence, it carries more aroma to our noses, adds the flavors of fermentation, and improves our gastronomical experience. Sometimes, we even use it in the spectacular flambé technique. Here, we pour alcohol on a dish and dramatically set on fire to alter the alcoholic flavours with a stunning visual display. But be careful! You want to add enough of the liquor to taste it without overpowering the dessert.
That’s right, April 19th every year we have the pleasure of celebrating amaretto. Why? It’s a national day all about the almond-flavoured Italian liqueur. We here at Dessert Advisor aren’t about to let this halt our celebrations for desserts inspired by the drink.
Amaretto derives its flavour from the humble apricot kernel. 16th-century Italians added sweet almonds to take the edge off the bitterness of the liqueur. This gives us the name amaretto, which translates to “a little bitter”. The legend of its creation has links to one of Leonardo da Vinci’s students, Bernardino Luini. He was commissioned by a church in Saronna, Italy, dedicated to the Madonna. His inspiration came from a local widowed innkeeper. The pair struck up a bond. Upon completion of the painting, she gave him the gift of the liqueur concoction… Yes, it was made from brandy-steeped apricot kernels.
While it took a few centuries, they started producing the liqueur on a larger scale. Eventually, in the 40s, it was overseas exports began.
People use it frequently to flavour desserts, and staying on the topic of legends, let’s examine the amaretti origins. Amaretti are almond flavoured macarons. So it goes, a spontaneous Milanese cardinal came to bless the citizens of Saronna in the early 1700s. Consequently, with little warning, a young couple apparently honoured him by quickly whipping together sugar, eggs whites, and apricot kernels. Thus creating the chewy, macaron-type cookies. Aren’t we grateful he decided to surprise their town with a visit?
Before we conclude, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention some other desserts associated with the Italian treat. Take for example, amaretto zabaglione, or perhaps amaretto brownies. We also have chocolate and amaretto panna cotta, amaretto parfait, and amaretto poached pears. But let’s not forget amaretto cream pie, or amaretto-almond pound cake. In addition, we have amaretto cheesecake. The list has the potential to be endless if we don’t draw the line somewhere!